FTA calls for careless driving guidelines

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FTA fears a ‘postcode lottery’
FTA fears a ‘postcode lottery’

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has responded to the introduction of new measures giving on-the-spot charges to careless drivers by stating that national guidelines are a must when it comes to fixed penalties for driving offences.

Roads Safety Minister Stephen Hammond announced on August 16 that offences such as tailgating or poor lane discipline will face on-the-spot penalties. Overall, FTA members support the establishment of careless driving as a fixed penalty offence but the body believes there is the need for an overarching strategy which will provide guidance on the standard of evidence required, ensuring the same judgements are applied across the country and avoid a ‘postcode lottery’ when penalties are issued.

James Hookham, FTA Director of Policy and Communications, said: “The 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.

James 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 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.”