Wednesday, 11 May 2011

£100 Fines For 'Idiot' Drivers

£100 fines for 'idiot' drivers: After years of speed cameras and penalties for ordinary motorists, ministers switch focus to aggressive boy racers.

* New fixed penalty notices of between £80 and £100 for careless driving rather than going to court

* An end to the right to request blood tests rather than breath tests for drink-driving

* Re-test for banned offenders before regaining licence

* Police station drug-testing and a possible new offence for drivers who drive under the influence of drugs

* The seizure of vehicles belonging to the most dangerous offenders to keep them off the road

Aggressive drivers are to face £100 on-the-spot fines in the biggest shake-up of road safety law for decades.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will today declare an end to the war on ordinary motorists who make honest mistakes.

But ‘boy racers’ who tailgate, undertake or cut up other motorists, those driving under the influence of drink or drugs and repeat offenders will face tough new penalties.

Tens of thousands who make minor transgressions will be spared points on their licence if they agree to undergo education courses to improve their driving.

Mr Hammond said Labour’s obsession with speed cameras meant motorists caught driving a few miles over the speed limit were currently prosecuted, while ‘idiots’ who endangered lives get off ‘scot-free’.

The Government has scrapped grants for councils to put up new speed cameras, and installations have already slowed down, he said.

Mr Hammond confirmed the Government was also considering raising the speed limit on motorways to 80mph, though he said no assessment had yet been done of the risks and benefits.

He said the Government’s new road safety strategy marked a ‘clear break’ with Labour’s approach since 1997.

‘We want to make a clear distinction between those drivers who are a real danger to road safety – reckless, dangerous drivers – and those who are merely occasionally careless or who make an honest mistake,’ he added.

‘That means much more emphasis on enforcement against those who represent the biggest risk and a big increase in the use of education for those who make minor transgressions.

‘The big problem under the last government was using technology. Speed cameras were installed and speed became the only focus of the road safety agenda. It ceased to be a road safety agenda and became a speed agenda.

'That meant somebody driving at 55mph in a 50mph limit might get prosecuted but the idiot who is weaving in and out of traffic and tail-gating gets off scot-free.’

The number of convictions for the offence of careless driving, Mr Hammond said, fell from 125,000 in 1985 to 28,000 in 2006. Police were increasingly discouraged from pursuing careless driving prosecutions because the courts were ‘clogged up’.
‘So we are going to introduce a fixed penalty for careless driving – something we don’t have at the moment,’ he said. They will be issued by police on the spot, but could also be sent to motorists spotted on roadside cameras. Like speeding fines, the notices will attract three points.

Minor offenders will be invited to avoid points on their licence by going on a driver education course.

‘Serious and repeat offenders are who we want to focus on because they are disproportionately responsible for accidents, deaths and injuries,’ Mr Hammond said.

‘There will be mandatory retraining for offenders before they get their licence back.’
On drink-driving, he said loopholes were allowing offenders to escape justice.

Those who are 40 per cent over the limit are able to demand a blood test but because that has to be carried out by a doctor there is usually a delay.

Mr Hammond said: ‘Alcohol can then clear the body. People are playing that loophole so we are going to close it – no more right to ask for a blood-test.’

There will also be a crackdown on drug-driving with the possibility of a new offence.

Currently, police have to prove both the presence of drugs and that a driver is dangerously impaired – meaning prosecutions are almost non-existent.

Mr Hammond conceded forces that have reduced the numbers of traffic police might have to rethink their priorities in light of the crackdown. ‘Chief constables will decide on how officers are deployed,’ he said.

The moves come as an RAC report reveals that young people are 17 times more likely to be killed on the roads than with a weapon. Road accidents are the biggest killer of young people aged 15 to 24 other than illness it says.

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Source : James Chapman -

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Drivers Face £80 Fines For Any Litter Thrown From Their Vehicle, Even If It Was A Passenger Who Threw It

Drivers are to face automatic £80 fines if litter is thrown from their vehicles – even if one of their passengers is to blame.

Ministers are considering a change in the law that will make motorists responsible for any rubbish dropped from their vehicles.

Council officers will be instructed to note the number plates of ‘offending’ vehicles, and an £80 penalty will then automatically be sent to the car’s registered owner

Evidence could also be collected by CCTV cameras.

Unless drivers are willing to identify the culprit they will have to pay the fine, even if they were not aware litter had been dropped while they were driving. Those who refuse could face trial in a magistrates’ court, with a potential fine of up to £2,500.

Councils and environmental campaigners have been pressing for the change for years, arguing that existing laws make it all but impossible to prosecute drivers for littering.

Supporters say the change would also spare council staff the need to confront drivers suspected of littering.
But there were warnings last night that the new law could quickly become another ‘cash cow’ for councils.

Motorists can already be fined for littering, but local authorities claim the law is almost impossible to enforce as officials have to prove the identity of the person who dropped the litter.

The planned change in the law would make the driver liable unless there was direct evidence that a passenger was responsible.
Clyde Loakes, of the Local Government Association, said the existing loophole in the law allowed offenders to get away ‘scot-free’.

He said the fines would help councils cover the annual £850million cost of keeping the streets clean.

Council staff could be deployed to ‘problem’ laybys and car parks specifically to enforce the litter laws. He added: ‘It’s time to get tough on lazy, selfish people who toss rubbish from moving cars and expect other people to cover the cost of cleaning it up. Getting tough on people who drop rubbish on our carriageways is one way to tackle a problem which is costly, difficult and dangerous to clean up.’

The change in the law could be incorporated in the Localism Bill that is going through Parliament.

More than two million items of litter are dropped in Britain each day, with motorists blamed for 70 per cent of the problem in some areas.

A survey by the Keep Britain Tidy Group found that a fifth admitted throwing litter from vehicles, with cigarette butts, chewing gum and drink cartons among the items most often discarded.

The study found that men aged under 35 were the most likely to drop litter from their cars, particularly if they were smokers.

Ministers have previously resisted extending the power of local authorities because of fears of a backlash from motorists. But they are now said to be persuaded of the need to act on environmental grounds.

Charlotte Linacre, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Motorists are already overtaxed. Councils have to make necessary spending cuts and there’s plenty of fat to trim, they shouldn’t look to plug gaps in their finances by ramping up charges on taxpayers.’

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Source : Jason Groves -