Press release

New penalties to tackle careless driving

Consultation launched on proposals to target careless driving with fixed penalty notices.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Careless drivers will be targeted under new proposals announced for consultation today (14 June 2012) by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning.

The proposals would make fixed penalty notices available for careless driving, giving the police greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences and freeing them from resource intensive enforcement processes. The fixed penalty will also enable the police to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement. Drivers would still be able to appeal any decision in court.

Mike Penning said:

Careless driving is a major public concern and a cause of deaths and injuries on our roads.

These changes support both police enforcement and, for some cases, the associated offer of educational training for motorists unaware of the full, potential consequences of driving carelessly.

We also need to make sure that the penalties for a wide range of fixed penalty motoring offences are set at reasonable levels, consistent with the potentially severe consequences of some infingements.

The proposed fixed penalty for careless driving will be £90 with 3 points on the driver’s licence. The most serious example will continue to go through court, where offenders may face higher penalties.

Other proposals announced for consultation today also include plans to increase the payment levels for many motoring fixed penalty offences, such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile phone whilst driving. The proposals would see penalties for these offences increase from £60 to £90. Similar increases to other fixed penalties are also being considered for non-endorsable offences (such as vehicle defects) insurance offences and graduated fixed penalties (such as driver hour regulations).

There are no plans to make any changes to penalty levels for parking offences.

Fixed penalty levels for most of these motoring offences have not increased since the year 2000, and are now lower than other penalties of a similar severity.

The consultation opens today and will close on 5 September 2012.

Notes for editors

At present, the police can enforce careless driving offences by the following methods: issue a warning with no further action or summons to court for the more serious cases. The offence attracts between 3 and 9 penalty points, a fine of up to £5,000 and discretionary disqualification. There is a separate offence for causing death by careless driving, which has higher penalties, including mandatory disqualification and the option of a custodial sentence.

In 2010, 322 deaths had ‘careless, reckless or in a hurry’ recorded as a contributory factor . This may be an underestimate as there are other contributory factors (e.g. failing to look properly) that could be included as careless driving.

Proposals to increase the levels for most motoring fixed penalty notice (FPN) offences, include increasing many £60 FPNs (usually endorsable) to £90. These offences include speeding, mobile phone use, passing red traffic lights and pedestrian crossing and not wearing a seat belt whilst driving. Increasing non endorsable £30 FPNs to £45 (offences include vehicle defects, lighting, noise or traffic regulation orders). Increasing the FPN for driving a vehicle without a minimum of third insurance from £200 to £300. We are also considering views on increasing the fixed penalty for keeping a vehicle without insurance (currently £100, but £50 if paid within 21 days) and graduated fixed penalties (which mainly relate to drivers hours and overloading offences) by a similar proportion.

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Published 14 June 2012