Stephen Hammond is a Transport Minister and MP for Wimbledon
We’ve all suffered from it and one point or another: middle lane hogs clogging up the motorway or irresponsible motorists driving right up to our rear bumper. Whilst we may curse in our car at this thoughtless behaviour, very few of us ever see action taken against them. Careless drivers are not only menace, their negligence puts innocent people’s lives at risk.
For those of you nodding in rueful agreement, today brings good news. From July, careless drivers who put other road users at risk face on-the-spot penalties.
And it is not only good news for the driver, but also for the police. It will be easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a Fixed Penalty Notice rather than needing to take every offender to court.
Also in the measures we are setting out is an increase in fines for other offences. The punishment for using a mobile phone while driving, for example, will rise from £60 to £100, a timely change given that smart phones have lead to an increase in texting and emailing while driving. This is now a serious danger to road safety.
The penalty for driving uninsured will also go up – by 50 per cent, from £200 to £300. As the additional cost that those who fail to insure their cars transfers onto the premiums of the vast majority of law abiding motorists, such an increase is common sense and fair to the law abiding many.
The new levels will offer greater encouragement for motorists to take remedial training as an alternative to the FPN, while part of the revenue raised will go to the victims of crime service. They are also overdue, with penalties for most offences having stayed the same since 2000.
Today’s announcement is part of a wider crackdown by this government that will save lives and protect the vast majority of responsible, good drivers from the few that disrupt and endanger them. For example, we have already legislated to make drug driving an offence, made it easier for courts to seize vehicles following serious motoring offences and ensured that the most dangerous drink drivers have to pass a test to prove they are fit to drive and non-dependent on alcohol before being allowed back on the roads.
I am proud to be part of a government that is taking the tough, practical action needed to prevent the kind of inexcusable driving that can ruin lives. There is never room for complacency when it comes to safety on our roads. But today, we can be pleased that those roads will soon be that little bit safer.