Crackdown on inconsiderate and uninsured drivers begins

New fines to tackle uninsured drivers and middle lane hoggers come into force this week, costing offenders up to £300.

The penalty for driving without valid car insurance is going up from £200 to £300 as of this Friday, August 16 – the same day that new, £100 fines for hogging the middle and outer lanes on motorways come into force.

A fine day for a drive

The new, higher fine for driving without car insurance is sure to be welcomed by all law-abiding motorists, but the AA says its members don’t think a £300 fine is going far enough. According to four out of every five AA members, the penalties for driving without cover aren’t tough enough. More than half (54%) of the AA members surveyed said uninsured drivers should face prison sentences, while two thirds (63%) said offenders should be electronically tagged. The AA’s Simon Douglas said the new £300 fine will do nothing to deter the motorists who “habitually drive without cover”. He said: “These are typically young men in cars that may have no MOT or tax. Offenders often have no driving licence or are already disqualified.” Under the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) rules introduced in 2011, any car which isn’t declared off road via a Statutory Off Road Notice must be covered by a car insurance policy, regardless of whether or not it is used. You can read more about CIE here.

Drivers on the spot

The somewhat controversial new offence of ‘careless driving’ will penalise drivers who tailgate other drivers and who hog the middle and outer lanes of a motorway with an on-the-spot fine of £100. Middle lane hogging, for the uninitiated, is when a driver remains in the middle lane of a motorway despite the first lane being clear enough for them to move over to their left – forcing anyone in the first lane who wants to overtake them to have to move all the way out to the third lane and back again. Tailgating is when a driver drives too close behind another driver, without leaving the necessary braking distance between the two vehicles. It’s thought the police will only take action against drivers who commit an offence over half a mile or more. Offenders will also either have their licence endorsed with three penalty points or be offered the chance to attend an educational training course instead. The idea of the new on-the-spot fine is to make it easier for police to tackle these kinds of problems. Stephen Hammond, road safety minister, 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.” Many have welcomed the measures as a way to deal with inconsiderate motorway drivers. But others have said many motorists won’t actually be aware they’re doing anything wrong, and that it’ll be impractical to police. Interestingly, another AA survey found that 29% of drivers (nearly 12 million, nationally) already admit to regularly hogging the middle lane of a motorway, and would fall foul of the new fine. Alongside these new offences, the fines for an existing set of offences are going up, as of Friday. If you’re caught using a handheld mobile phone while driving, jumping a red light or failing to wear a seatbelt, you’ll now be fined £100 rather than £60. What do you think of middle lane hoggers and tailgaters? Do you think the fines are a good idea? Do you think there’s a chance you’ll be caught out? Let us know in the comments.

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