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On the spot fines are with us

New powers that allow the police to issue on the spot fixed penalty notices came into force on the 15th of August. The fines are aimed at so-called anti-social driving habits, such as hogging the middle lane on the motorway, cutting up other motorists or tailgating.

New powers that allow the police to issue on the spot fixed penalty notices came into force on the 15th of August. The fines are aimed at so-called anti-social driving habits, such as hogging the middle lane on the motorway, cutting up other motorists or tailgating. The measures also extend to general careless driving and stunt driving like handbrake turns. Offenders will get three points on their licence and a fine of £100. Fines for existing offences, such as using a mobile phone, will also be increased to £100 to bring them into line with the new law.

The enforcement of the middle lane hogging practice on the motorway could be set to have the biggest impact. The Highway Code states that the middle lane should only be used for overtaking but a survey by the AA shows that one in three drivers routinely cruise in the middle lane. The motoring organisation's president, Edmund King, has welcomed the new anti-social driving legislation, commenting: "We are pleased to see that at long last new powers and fines will be given to the police to tackle the top three pet hates of drivers: tailgaters, mobile phone abusers and middle lane hogs. It is worrying that three quarters of drivers see others using mobile phones behind the wheel on some or most journeys. This epidemic of hand held mobile phone use while driving has already cost lives and our members have demanded action."

The RAC also welcomed the introduction of the new measures, with director, Professor Stephen Glaister, saying: "Anti-social behaviour is just as big a problem on our roads as it is in society generally. Powers that give the police more freedom to act against anti-social driving behaviour on the spot, rather than have to waste time and effort on expensive court procedures, are a good idea, because they will both make our roads safer and also free up valuable resources."

The coalition government's road safety minister, Stephen Hammond, also added his welcome to the legislation, commenting: "Careless driving puts innocent people's lives at risk; that is why we are making it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice for low level offending rather than taking these offenders to court."

Although the moves have also been welcomed by the police themselves, concerns have been raised about the resources required to enforce the new measures at a time when the number of road traffic officers has been cut back.

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