The government have announced today, 5th June 2013, that they are to give police officers the power to issue fixed penalty notices for driving offences. These proposals mean officers will be able to give on the spot fines without having to go through lengthy court proceedings.
The following is a list of the offences that will now be eligible for fixed penalty notices:
- Middle lane hoggers and tailgaters will now get a £100 fine and 3 penalty points on their driving license.
- The fine for using a mobile phone whilst driving will rise to £100 (previously £60) with 3 penalty points.
- The fine for not wearing a seatbelt will rise to £100 (previously £60) with 3 penalty points.
So, why are these offences so serious?
Middle Lane Hogging:
Road users that ‘hog’ the middle lane are some of the most annoying drivers out on the road that you can meet. A middle lane hogger is someone who initially moves into the middle lane of a 3 (or more) lane carriageway, normally a motorway, to overtake another vehicle, but then never moves back to the left lane when they have finished overtaking. All drivers should keep to the left lane unless they are overtaking. This means that traffic can flow more easily, leaving more room on the carriageway for those cars who wish to overtake. Middle lane hoggers cause a moving blockade along the stretch of road which means two things:
- There is less room for cars to overtake, and the cars that do overtake may take more risks. For example they may attempt to overtake on the left hand side. This may prove very dangerous should the hogger realise their mistake and try and move back to the left whilst being overtaken, potentially causing a collision
- Because they are blocking one of the lanes used for overtaking, they will increase traffic congestion along the carriageway behind them, increasing the journey time of other drivers.
Tailgating is when a person is driving too closely to the car in front. The normal guide is to leave a 2 second gap between the cars, rising to 4 seconds in the wet, and 20 seconds in icy conditions. The reason for this gap is to allow you plenty of time to react to events happening ahead of you, and give you a good view of the road ahead. On many occasions I’ve seen 4 cars all travelling within a 2 second space. If the first car was to brake suddenly or had a fault such as a puncture, then all 4 cars would be involved in a horrific high speed accident, which could then involve cars from further behind. Most accidents on motorways could be avoided if drivers followed the correct procedures.
Using Mobile Phones whilst driving
There has been great publicity over recent years about the dangers of drink driving, and most people are fully aware of this. A recent study by Brake, the road safety charity, showed that reaction times of drivers using a mobile phone whilst driving were even slower than those of someone under the influence of alcohol. There has been many debates that the punishment for using a mobile phone whilst driving are not harsh enough, and I still feel that harsher punishments are needed although the increased fine goes a little way to provide an added deterrent.
Driving without Seatbelts
I think if you asked most people in the UK the importance of wearing a seatbelt, then everyone would give you a similar answer. But even with a full awareness of these dangers many people still take a risk by not wearing a seatbelt.
Recently at the start of a lesson, the pupil asked me if we could pick her son up from school. This wasn’t a problem, we picked him up, he got in the back, and put his seatbelt on. But what he did next surprised me, he put the section that goes over your chest behind him, limiting the usefulness of the seatbelt. Obviously, I corrected him, and made sure he wore it properly, and spoke to his mum (the pupil) about the dangers.
On another lesson I had a pupil who wanted his mate to sit in the back. His mate didn’t put his seatbelt on, so I asked him how much he weighed. He was 13 stone. I then asked him what effect something the weight of 13 stone being hurled at the back of the chair in front of him at 30mph might have. He soon belted up!
I can never understand why people don’t bother to wear a seatbelt. The fact that they can now receive a £100 fine shouldn’t be needed. The fact that you are more likely to lose your life should be the biggest deterrent.
Would you like further information about any of the items above?
Drive Ahead School of Motoring are a small independent driving school in Stoke on Trent. We appreciate that on occasion people aren’t always fully aware of road procedures, as they often change over the years and drivers don’t always keep up to date with these changes. If you have questions about the issues raised in this post then please feel free to leave your comments below and we’ll do our best to respond.
If you feel you’d like some remedial driving lessons to help you further your knowledge and be better prepared on the roads then please call us on 01782 906010 or visit our website www.driveahead.co.uk