Press release

New penalties to tackle tailgating and middle lane hogging

Changes are being introduced to give the police powers to issue fixed penalty notices for careless driving.

Careless drivers who put other road users at risk face on-the-spot penalties under new measures announced today (5 June 2013) by Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond.

The changes will give the police powers to issue fixed penalty notices for careless driving, giving them greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences - such as tailgating or middle lane hogging - and freeing them from resource-intensive court processes. The fixed penalty will also enable the police to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement. Drivers will still be able to appeal any decision in court.

In addition, existing fixed penalty levels for most motoring offences - including using a mobile phone at the wheel and not wearing a seatbelt - will rise to £100 to bring them into line with the penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties.

Stephen Hammond said:

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 rather than needing to take every offender to court.

We are also increasing penalties for a range of driving offences to a level which reflects their seriousness and which will ensure that they are consistent with other similar penalty offences.

Edmund King, AA President said:

It is worrying that 3 quarters of drivers see others using mobile phones behind the wheel on some or most journeys1. This epidemic of hand held mobile phone use while driving has already cost lives and our members have demanded action. An increase in the standard motoring fixed penalty fine will help deter those who commit motoring offences including mobile phone use. AA members broadly support an increase in the level of the fixed penalty. Our members also fully support educational training as an alternative to penalty points.

We are also pleased to see that at long last new powers and fines will be given to the police to tackle the top three pet hates of drivers – tailgaters, mobile phone abusers and middle lane hogs.

Chief Constable Suzette Davenport ACPO lead on roads policing said:

The new penalties are absolutely necessary to deal with drivers who are putting people’s lives at risk and police will not hesitate to enforce them.

These measures should also act as a reminder to careless drivers that their behaviour will not be tolerated.

The vast majority of drivers are law abiding, but some are still not getting the message. We said we would get tougher on those who make our roads dangerous and that is exactly what we have done.

The fixed penalty for careless driving will be £100 with 3 points on the driver’s licence. The most serious examples will continue to go through court, where offenders may face higher penalties.

There are no changes to penalty levels for parking offences.

Fixed penalty levels for most of these motoring offences have not increased since 2000, and are now lower than other penalties of a similar severity. In addition, raising the penalty levels for these offences offers an additional incentive for drivers to take up remedial courses which address poor driving behaviour in the longer term.

The changes - which the government aim to bring into force in July this year - are being introduced following extensive public consultation with road safety groups and police forces.

Notes to editors

Most motoring fixed penalties offences will rise under the changes:

  • a non-endorsable (where the driver does not receive points on their licence) £30 fixed penalty notice will rise to £50
  • an endorsable (where points are given) £60 and non-endorsable fixed penalty notice will rise to £100
  • an endorsable £120 fixed penalty notice will rise to £200
  • the fixed penalty notice for driving with no insurance will rise from £200 to £300

Graduated fixed penalties (mainly for commercial goods and passenger carrying vehicles and including offences like drivers’ hours and overloading) and financial deposits (for drivers without a satisfactory UK address) will also increase:

  • a £30 non-endorsable fine will rise to £50
  • a £60 endorsable and non-endorsable fine will rise to £100
  • a £120 endorsable and non-endorsable fine will rise to £200
  • a £200 endorsable and non-endorsable fine will rise to £300

The consultation took place from 14 June 2012 to 5 September 2012.

As with other existing fixed penalty notice offences, such as speeding, police forces will also be able to offer careless drivers the option of remedial training.

Endorsable road traffic offences contribute to a significant number of casualties. For example, in 2011, excess speed contributed to 213 deaths and using a mobile phone while driving contributed to 374 road casualties.

Though penalty levels will increase, penalty points will not change. Fixed penalty notices for parking, waiting and obstruction offences will also remain unchanged.

1Populus interviewed 20,936 adults aged 18+ on The AA-Populus online panel between 20 and 23 August 2012. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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