New penalties for drivers, including on-the-spot fines for tailgating and lane-hogging, took effect yesterday . The level of fines for some existing offences, such as using a mobile phone while driving, will also rise.
The changes have already gone down badly with some motorists, with a recent poll of 3,000 drivers by Auto Trader showing that 60% of people think the new fines would make no impact on road safety, while the AA said the Government had not done enough to warn people of the new penalties.
The lane-hogging and tailgating fines are part of changes giving the police powers to issue fixed-penalty notices for careless driving. The penalty will be ï¿½100 with three points on the driver’s licence. The most serious examples will continue to be dealt with in court, where offenders may face higher penalties. Northumbria Police said yesterday that its motor patrols team would be implementing the new powers with the launch of a roads policing operation across the area.
Over the coming months officers will be patrolling the main arterial routes in the area - including the A1, A19, A69, Central Motorway and Coast Road - looking for careless and dangerous drivers. They will also be carrying out regular checks on minor and rural roads as part of the operation.
Motor Patrols Chief Insp George Maratty said: “These new powers are now in force and we are keen to get the message across to all motorists.
“We won’t be using the powers to target the majority of motorists who safely use the roads, but to take action against the small minority who drive dangerously and cause an annoyance to other road users.”
Deputy Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Dennett said: “One of our priorities is to ensure police are addressing local road safety concerns. We know from speaking to people that irresponsible driving is high on the list of issues they want officers to address.
“Responsible, law-abiding motorists will ultimately benefit from safer roads.”
The changes are being introduced following extensive public consultation with road safety groups and police forces. The Department for Transport said fixed-penalty charge levels for most of the motoring offences in tomorrow’s changes had not increased since 2000.
Various fines for which drivers do not have their licence endorsed rise from ï¿½30 to ï¿½50. These include such offences as not having a clearly displayed car tax disc and failing to give way at a junction.
Other fines, such as using a mobile phone at the wheel, and some speeding offences, rise from ï¿½60 to ï¿½100.
The fine for failing to wear a seatbelt goes up from ï¿½60 to ï¿½100, while the fine for driving without insurance rises from ï¿½200 to ï¿½300.