‘Motorists back tougher penalties for offenders’

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The vast majority of drivers want to see much higher fines and tougher enforcement to tackle the subculture of risky and selfish drivers who repeatedly flout laws and get away with it.

A survey by the charity Brake and Direct Line found nearly eight in ten drivers (78%) are in favour of fines of £200 or more for traffic offences such as speeding, using a mobile phone, or careless driving – more than double the potential increase to £90 set out in recent government proposals

Half of those surveyed (47%) think fines should be £500 or more.

Drivers are also fed up with habitual offenders, who use loopholes to keep their licence. More than three in four (78%) think it’s wrong that some drivers who tot up 12 points are allowed to dodge a ban under an ‘exceptional hardship’ clause. In October 2011, Brake revealed that more than 10,000 drivers in England and Wales were driving with 12 points or more on their licence

Ellen Booth, Brake senior campaigns officer, said: “The government must listen to the public, who recognise that far tougher penalties are needed to stop risky, selfish behaviour at the wheel and that we need to take dangerous repeat offenders off the roads.

“The government has proposed increasing fixed penalty fines for driving offences to a paltry £90: we say this is nowhere near enough, and drivers agree. We need far higher fines in line with the fact these offences pose a threat to human life, and all too often lead to tragedy.

“We also need to ensure our penalty points system is working, and drivers who repeatedly flout the law aren’t being allowed to keep their licence. We need a simple, clear message from government: drivers who risk lives won’t be tolerated and should expect to pay a high price.”

Brake is calling for an increase in the level of fixed penalty fines for traffic offences to £500 at the very least, but ideally around £1,000, to reflect the seriousness of the crime.

It also wants to see an end to the ‘exceptional hardship’ legal loophole, so drivers who accrue 12 points lose their licence without exception, continued government support for driver improvement courses for first-time, low level offenders and traffic policing to be a national policing priority, to ensure greater numbers of front line police are on patrol on our roads, deterring offending.