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Drivers To Face Harsher Fines

The government has announced that it intends to change the law to allow police to issue drivers with on the spot fines for a number of minor traffic offences. The changes could be in place as early as July and will empower police officers to issue fixed penalty notices for transgressions such as hogging the middle lane of motorways, tailgating and using phones while driving

The government has announced that it intends to change the law to allow police to issue drivers with on the spot fines for a number of minor traffic offences. The changes could be in place as early as July and will empower police officers to issue fixed penalty notices for transgressions such as hogging the middle lane of motorways, tailgating and using phones while driving. At the same time, the government will increase fines for mobile phone use and not wearing a seat belt from £60 to £100. The moves have been welcomed by motoring organisations but concerns remain that there will not be enough police patrols to make the measures effective.
 
The Institute of Advanced Motorists has also said that it is concerned that treating some offences, like driving while using a mobile phone, as careless does not take them seriously enough. The Institute of Advanced Motorists' policy and research director, Neil Greig, commented: "This is a major change in traffic law enforcement and the IAM is concerned that issuing fixed penalty tickets for careless driving downplays the seriousness of the offence. Careless covers a wide range of poor to reckless driving behaviour that often merits further investigation. This could free up traffic police time and allow them to maintain a higher profile. But without traffic cops out on the road to enforce this new approach it will have little impact on road safety."
 
Mr Greig's views are echoed by David Williams, chief executive of breakdown outfit GEM Assist, who adds that more care should be taken to educate new drivers, especially about the specific demands of motorway driving. He said: "We welcome the changes but are greatly concerned that huge reductions in traffic police over recent years may make this move ineffective. Currently learner drivers are not allowed to be supervised on motorways and so how do they learn about lane discipline?" 
 
The need for more education was supported by RAC Foundation director, Stephen Glaister, who added: "Giving police more discretion to act and freeing up resources to allow them to do so by cutting procedural delays in court, should be good news. We are also pleased to see that the stick is accompanied by the chance of re-education for the less serious offenders. It won't solve the problem overnight, but does at least show ministers are taking seriously a problem which is a pet hate of most of the nation's 35 million drivers. Lane-hogging and tailgating aren't just irritants, they can cost lives. Driving too close was a contributory factor in 17 per cent of all motorway accidents in 2011."

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