Higher fines for risky drivers, at last – we hope it makes a difference.

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 A couple of days ago, in my car bearing my TRISTAR roof-sign and various magnetic decals, I was tail-gated by a couple of young guys and, though I regret rising to it now, I gestured that they should pull back. However, all I got was increased aggression (well there were two of them) and I eventually pulled over.

“You undertook us on the approach to the A34 roundabout,” was the sneered accusation. “near the petrol station.”

Having used that stretch of road literally hundreds of times (and let’s face it boys, I’m not the one who left school a handful of years ago), I still revisited later that evening.

As suspected, approaching the roundabout, and assuming we all observe the correct and appropriate lane discipline – how on earth can anyone be accused of under-taking?

Whatever the alleged incident, the young man concerned was in no way entitled to tailgate me or any driver, in order to make a point and illustrate his imagined disapproval.

My fervent wish is that he and others anywhere near his car, stay alive long enough to develop common sense.

How glad TRISTAR was therefore, when the BRAKE charity published the following:

Fixed penalty notice fines for endorsable driving offences like speeding, mobile phone use and not wearing seatbelts have now been increased to £100 (plus three points), having stood at £60 since 2000. At the same time, police were given powers to issue fixed penalty fines, also of £100 plus three points, for lower-level ‘careless driving’ offences like tailgating.

It’s a much-welcome, if long-overdue move, in our view. The extra powers for police should help more drivers to be caught and punished for risky manoeuvres, and hopefully encourage greater respect for important rules on roads.

We have also long thought the previous £60 fixed penalty fine grossly inadequate for law-breaking that can, and often does, lead to horrific injuries and loss of life. For many drivers, it’s little more than a slap on the wrist, less than the cost of filling up the tank, and encouraged the scarily prevalent view that breaking a law at the wheel isn’t a real crime.

It’s well evidenced – and obvious – that higher fines pose a greater deterrent against law-breaking. And it’s very clear that the sorts of behaviour we’re talking about here – speeding, phone use at the wheel, tailgating – pose a danger to others and cause casualties. So we sincerely hope that upping fines to £100 will encourage more drivers to think twice and apply extra diligence when it comes to staying within the law and driving safely. But we would rather the increase went much further.

We believe fines for driving offences should go up further, and hope they won’t stay static for another 13 years. But in the meantime, we hope today’s change sends a message to drivers that the laws on our roads are real laws, in place to protect people’s lives, and breaking them is irresponsible, dangerous and won’t be tolerated.


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