New moves by the Government to promote safer driving have been welcomed by ACFO, but the organisation is concerned that the introduction of new offences and tougher fines will prove difficult to enforce due to a shortage of traffic police.
Fixed penalty fines for most motoring offences increase significantly on Friday, August 16 and, simultaneously, the Government is also introducing the punishment for some careless driving offences.
Fixed penalty levels for most motoring offences - including using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel and not wearing a seatbelt - will rise to £100 to bring them into line with the penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties, the Government has announced.
Careless driving offences deemed ‘less serious’ such as tailgating and middle lane hogging will also be dealt with through fixed penalty fines. The fixed penalty for careless driving will be £100 with three points on a driver’s licence. However, the most serious examples will continue to go through the courts, where offenders may face higher penalties.
ACFO director Julie Jenner said: “Harsher penalties for unsafe driving are to be welcomed. However, ACFO is concerned as to the practical aspects of enforcement.
“Many drivers continue to use hand-held mobile phones, for example, in the knowledge that the likelihood of them being caught by the police is minimal.”
Ms Jenner continued: “In my job I travel many thousands of miles a year on motorways and major roads across the country. I see drivers committing a wide range of offences such as those identified by the Government - hand-held mobile phone use, middle lane hogging and the non wearing of a seat belt - but I rarely see any traffic police on patrol.
“Tougher penalties are fine in theory, but without a clearly visible police presence on the roads it is difficult to believe that offenders will be caught.