FTA urges national guidelines for driving penalties to avoid postcode lottery
Careless driving penalties need national guidelines to avoid a “postcode lottery,” the Freight Transport Association has warned.
The Tunbridge Wells-based FTA was responding to the announcement by Roads Safety Minister Stephen Hammond that careless drivers who put other road users at risk by committing offences, such as tailgating or lane-hogging, will face on-the-spot penalties.
Overall, FTA members, as employers of professional drivers, support the establishment of careless driving as a fixed £100 penalty offence but believe that there is the need for an overarching strategy which will provide guidance on the standard of evidence required.
It wants to ensure that the same judgements are applied across the country and so will avoid a postcode lottery when penalties are issued.
James Hookham, FTA director of policy and communications, said: “FTA is asking that national guidelines are issued to remove the risk of ‘summary justice’ being applied to generally subjective offences such as tailgating and being in the wrong lane, to avoid the postcode lottery of some offences being interpreted differently by different police forces.”
The changes give the police greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences, freeing them from resource-intensive court processes.
Existing fixed penalty levels for most motoring offences - including using a mobile phone at the wheel and not wearing a seatbelt - rise to £100, bringing them into line with penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties.
Mr Hookham added: “The scale of the increase arises because these fines were last reviewed in 2000 and as we know, inflation has risen a great deal since then. FTA is concerned that this could result in many fines remaining unpaid and costing taxpayers extra to recover them. In the future fixed penalty fines should be reviewed more frequently to maintain proportionality and avoid the ‘shock increase’ effect.”
The changes affect most motoring fixed penalties. A non-endorsable (where the driver does not receive points on their licence) £30 fixed penalty notice has risen to £50; an endorsable (where points are given) £60 and non-endorsable fixed penalty notice has risen to £100; an endorsable £120 fixed penalty notice has risen to £200; the fixed penalty notice for driving with no insurance has risen from £200 to £300.
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