The Government introduced new careless driving penalties last month, which entered law at the same time as the fines for offences such as speeding, not wearing a seatbelt or hand-held mobile phone use rose from £60 to £100 on top of three points on a driving licence.
The new offence of careless driving is designed to give the police greater flexibility to deal with so-called less serious driving offences rather than the previous set-up where the only option was a court appearance. Behaviour such as tailgating or poor lane discipline are two misdemeanours specifically being targeted, and more serious offences can still be pursued through the courts and increased penalties handed out.
“Careless driving puts innocent people’s lives at risk – that is why we have made 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,” said road safety minister Stephen Hammond. “We have also increased 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.” The rise to £100 is, according to the Government, as a result of fines for non-motoring offences being higher, while parking fines remain unchanged.
The fine for driving without insurance has also been increased to £300, a rise of £100, in an attempt to discourage some of the estimated 1.1 million uninsured drivers on UK roads, equating to one-in-36 drivers.
This figure is, though, down by around 40% since 2005, which the Motor Insurers’ Bureau puts down in part to police enforcement, with more than one million uninsured vehicles having been seized.
“We welcome this rise in fines as a further step to discourage drivers from using a vehicle without insurance,” said Ashton West, MIB chief executive. “However, seizing a vehicle from the driver is ultimately the most effective. Our work with the police and DVLA is vital in making enforcement visible to everyone and helps to keep our roads safer and reduces the burden on honest motorists.”
The penalties for driving without insurance now stand at the vehicle being seized, with a one-off £150 charge plus £20 per day to recover it once insurance is proven, a £300 fixed penalty fine and six penalty points on a driving license, with the vehicle liable to be crushed or sold – a fate befalling 30% of seized vehicles – if not recovered.