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Tailgaters face fines and points

The Government has announced a crackdown on road hogs and tailgaters as part of a shake-up of motoring offence penalties.

Drivers who hog the middle lane or tailgate other cars risk on-the-spot fines of £100 and three points on their licence under plans unveiled by road safety minister Stephen Hammond.

The fixed penalty of £100 will also enable police to offer educational training as an alternative to licence endorsement. Drivers will still be able to appeal against any decision in court. The plans also include a rise from £60 to £100 in the fine for using a hand-held mobile phone while at the wheel and a similar increase in the penalty for not wearing a seatbelt.

Mr Hammond said: "Careless drivers are a menace and their negligence 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 rather than needing to take every offender to court.

"We are also increasing penalties for a range of driving offences to a level which reflects their seriousness and which will ensure that they are consistent with other similar penalty offences."

AA president Edmund King said: "An increase in the standard motoring fixed penalty fine will help deter those who commit motoring offences including mobile phone use. AA members broadly support an increase in the level of the fixed penalty. Our members also fully support educational training as an alternative to penalty points."

Chief Constable Suzette Davenport , who heads the roads policing section of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "The new penalties are absolutely necessary to deal with drivers who are putting people's lives at risk and police will not hesitate to enforce them. These measures should also act as a reminder to careless drivers that their behaviour will not be tolerated

Institute of Advanced Motorists director of policy Neil Greig said: "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."

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of road safety charity Brake, said: "We welcome the introduction of on-the-spot fines for careless driving, to make it easier for police to catch and prosecute risky law-breaking drivers. We are also pleased to see a much-needed rise in driving offence fines, but think this doesn't go far enough. "

She went on: "It's crucial we encourage greater respect for laws on our roads, which are in place to protect people's lives, and higher fines can help achieve this. A fine of £100 is not enough to pose a strong deterrent to potentially life-threatening behaviour, like using a mobile at the wheel. We are also calling on the Government to stem worrying cut-backs in traffic policing levels. We believe traffic policing should be made a national policing priority, to ensure we have sufficient numbers of officers enforcing vital safety laws on our roads."


From Belfast Telegraph