A year of Fixed Penalty Notices for careless driving

Car Police

It is now just over a year since we saw the introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices for careless driving; a recent survey for the AA shows that around 74% of drivers have noticed no change at all in the behaviour of other drivers.

Tailgating is one of the top hates of UK motorists and it is included among the less serious offences that could result in the issue of a Fixed Penalty Notice, middle lane hogging and using a mobile phone whilst at the wheel are also examples of less serious offences of careless driving for which a Fixed Penalty Notice might be issued.

Although careless driving has actually been an offence for many years the police were only given the power to fine offenders for less serious breaches of the law a year ago, however there has been concerns voiced about how effective the new Fixed Penalty Notices can prove to be if the police are not prepared to enforce them. The Automobile Association Head of roads policy, Paul Watters, said “Careless driving has been an offence since the eighties, but it was hoped that giving police the power to fine people for less serious examples of it would encourage drivers to change their behaviour, without clogging up the courts.” Mr Watters added “These results show that enforcement must be a priority if these green shoots of progress are to be maintained.”

So just how effective have these new police powers proven to be so far? Well so far it seems that the new rules are having a small but positive effect, with almost a third of drivers saying that they have taken note of the new law and have changed their driving accordingly. The survey results show that those drivers who have modified their driving after the change in the rules vary quite significantly according to which area of the UK they live, for example, the greatest proportion – at 32% – of drivers who are most likely to say they are making reductions in tailgating, etc live in the North West of England, whereas those who live in Scotland are the least likely to make any changes at 26%.

Will a more visible police presence make a difference? It appears that most members of the AA certainly think so, 82% feel that this is crucial! There is quite a contrast between age groups however; with 66% of drivers aged 18-25 feeling that a more visible police presence will make a difference, compared to 85% of those aged over 65.

Hopefully these new police powers will continue to make a positive impact on the behaviour of those motorists who annoy most of us with their poor driving, Paul Watters said “Tailgating, middle lane hogging and using a mobile phone at the wheel are the top pet hates of driver. Not only are they an irritant, but they are dangerous and the only real and sustainable way to curb these behaviours is through detection, enforcement and ideally with warnings and education as a starting point.” We couldn’t agree more.

Special Thanks Axion23 for providing the image.