Yesterday it was announced, that as from next year, police will be given the power to issue fixed penalty notices to dangerous drivers. There are 2 areas that they are targeting:
Fixed Penalty Notices
This is when you follow the car in front much too closely. The reason this is dangerous is because when following too closely, you are greatly reducing the time you have to react if the driver in front has to brake suddenly. You will also be a distraction to the car in front, as the driver will be constantly checking their mirrors, concerned about how close you are. This will mean they are spending less time concentrating on the road ahead, making it more likely they will be late to respond to incidents ahead, making them brake late and hard, making it even more likely that you’ll run into the back of them.
How Close to the car in front should you be?
In dry weather you should keep a minimum distance of 2 seconds between you and the vehicle in front. The way we judge this is using the 2 second rule – when the car in front passes a static object e.g. a signpost/lamppost/bridge/road marking, say to yourself “only a fool breaks to the 2 second rule”. If you’ve reached the static object before you’ve finished saying the phrase then you’re too close, so ease back and try again until you can complete the phrase. It’s also important to remember that in wet weather you should double the distance, and icy weather you should multiply the distance by 10! Why not check out this video from the 70’s, it might look a bit dated but the principles are still exactly the same – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZesRXxS2MNY&feature=related
Overtaking on the left
If you overtake somebody on the left hand side you are creating a dangerous situation. The highway code states that you should only overtake on the right. This means that drivers can be constantly aware of the cars around them, and know that when they move back over to the left lane they need to look out for the vehicles they have just overtaken, and not drivers who are hopping between lanes.
What should you be doing?
It’s important to keep your normal driving position in the left lane, unless you are overtaking or turning right. When you do overtake, only do so to vehicles on your left, then make sure as soon as you’re a safe distance past the vehicle, move back over to the left lane. If the traffic in the right lane is going slower than you are, then you need to reduce your speed to ensure you don’t overtake them.
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. You may overtake vehicles which are signalling to turn right, IF it is safe to pass on the left. Also if traffic is moving slowly in queues, and vehicles in the right lane are moving more slowly than you are, then you may pass on the left.
Hopefully these new rules will encourage drivers to drive more safely and follow the rules of the road. The fixed penalty notice is a fine, usually £60 although this may rise to £80 or maybe more in the near future.