The government is to introduce new fines for anti-social driving behaviour such as tailgating and middle-lane hogging from August.
Annoying and dangerous driving practices such as tailgating, middle-lane hogging and mobile phone use have been complained about by road-users for years.
But now new measures announced by the government means that from August 2013 culprits will face on-the-spot penalty notices from police officers.
New fines to tackle careless driving
Currently many careless driving offences go unpunished because of the bureaucracy involved in prosecuting a case.
A motorist has to be stopped by a police officer, a summons issued and evidence presented in court.
Transport minister Stephen Hammond says: "Careless drivers are a menace and their negligence puts innocent people's lives at risk.
"That is why we are making it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice."
'Bad' drivers to be offered additional training
The fixed penalty will also enable the police to offer remedial training as an alternative to points on your licence.
A motorist who is offered and completes one of these courses will avoid getting points, but they will still have to pay the fine.
However, in this instance, rather than going to central government, the money will contribute to paying for the training course.
And although the fixed penalty notice will be issued on the spot, motorists will have 28 days in which to pay.
If the motorist feels they have been wrongly accused, they will have the option of refusing to take the penalty and defending themself through the court process.
Careless driving & dangerous driving
But Simon Best, chief executive of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, feels there may be pitfalls in the new legislation.
"What we don't want is for the line between careless driving, which attracts these fixed penalties, and dangerous driving to become blurred.
"For example, there could be an instance of dangerous driving which would, if pursued, involve a court case.
"But instead it's downgraded to careless driving and a fixed penalty notice is issued because that's easier from a procedural point of view.
"Then, of course, we're also aware that to issue on-the-spot fines you do need to have a police officer in the vicinity.
Fewer traffic police
"And as we have about 50 per cent fewer traffic police than we did in the late 1990s that is going to make enforcement difficult.
"We do feel that offering driver training is a very important step. Speed awareness courses are already widespread.
"But the courses to remedy careless driving focus on wider issues as well as speed such as mobile phone use, jumping red lights and not wearing seatbelts.
"The two main courses on offer are What's Driving Us?, which is classroom based, and Driving for Change, which covers both a classroom session and practical driving skills.
"They attract a greater mix of participants than speeding courses, and while a fine is one form of deterrent, we have found that being in a learning environment has a much greater impact on drivers."
Motoring organisations back new fines
Many road safety organisations are supporting these changes.
Edmund King is president of motoring organisation and car insurance provider the AA.
He says: "We are pleased that at long last new powers and fines will be given to the police to tackle the top three hates of drivers: tailgaters, mobile phone abusers and middle lane hogs.
"We believe that an increase in the standard motoring fixed penalty fine will help deter those who commit motoring offences.
"We also fully support educational training as an alternative to penalty points."
The RAC Foundation is also behind the moves, saying that they will free up police time.
Current motoring fines to rise
Many current motoring fines will also increase under the changes.
For example, using a mobile phone while driving or not wearing a seatbelt which would have incurred three penalty points and a £60 fine, will now result in three points and a £100 fine.
The fixed penalty fine for driving with no insurance will rise from £200 to £300.
Fixed penalties for parking, waiting and obstruction aren't affected by these changes.
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Fines to punish middle-lane hoggers and tailgaters: will this work?
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