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New penalties to tackle careless driving

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Careless drivers will be targeted under new proposals announced for consultation today by road safety minister Mike Penning.

The proposals would make fixed penalty notices available for careless driving, giving the police greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences and freeing them from resource intensive enforcement processes.

The fixed penalty will also enable the police to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement. Drivers would still be able to appeal any decision in court.

Penning said: “Careless driving is a major public concern and a cause of deaths and injuries on our roads.

“These changes support both police enforcement and, for some cases, the associated offer of educational training for motorists unaware of the full, potential consequences of driving carelessly.

“We also need to make sure that the penalties for a wide range of fixed penalty motoring offences are set at reasonable levels, consistent with the potentially severe consequences of some infringements.”

The proposed fixed penalty for careless driving will be £90 with three points on the driver’s licence. The most serious example will continue to go through court, where offenders may face higher penalties.

However, IAM director of policy Neil Greig said: "We are unconvinced that making careless driving a fixed penalty notice offence will improve road safety.

“Careless driving covers a range of offences, varying from parking to highly irresponsible behaviour which deserves a court summons.

“The IAM strongly support driver re-education courses and these could still be handed out through courts.

“An increase in speeding and other penalty fines is needed to keep up with inflation. Yet the Ministry of Justice only recently suggested a victim surcharge be added to them. This would make any increase much larger. The real aim of fines for motoring offences should be deterrence rather than generating income."

Other proposals announced for consultation today also include plans to increase the payment levels for many motoring fixed penalty offences, such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile phone whilst driving.

The proposals would see penalties for these offences increase from £60 to £90. Similar increases to other fixed penalties are also being considered for non-endorsable offences (such as vehicle defects) insurance offences and graduated fixed penalties (such as driver hour regulations).

There are no plans to make any changes to penalty levels for parking offences.

Fixed penalty levels for most of these motoring offences have not increased since the year 2000, and are now lower than other penalties of a similar severity.

The consultation opens today and will close on 5 September 2012. The consultation document can be found here.

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