Hogs get hit where it hurts

Police have stopped more than 5,000 road-hogs and tailgaters since the introduction of ‘careless driving’ laws last summer. In August 2013 police were given powers to issue on-the-spot fines and penalty points to drivers for careless driving, and a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from motor magazine AutoExpress shows that 5,472 drivers have so far fallen foul of the new rules.
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Motorists can now be issued with a £100 fine or three penalty points for tailgating, hogging the middle or outer lane of a motorway, mounting the pavement or even accelerating through a puddle. They’ll be given the option to reduce the penalty by completing a safe driving course, as taken by drivers caught speeding or drink-driving.

Scotland top of the stops

The AutoExpress FOI request was submitted to all 45 UK police forces to see how many motorists each had stopped, and why. Police Scotland came out on top with a total of 1,454 drivers brought to book, but it should be noted that this force covers a larger area than most. In second place was Nottinghamshire, with 977 cautions, followed by the Met Police in London with 544, but many forces could only say whether drivers had been stopped for inconsiderate driving or driving without due care and attention. The 10 police forces with the biggest number of ‘stops’ are…
Police Scotland

1,454

Nottinghamshire

977

Met Police

544

Humberside

389

West Yorkshire

272

Essex

242

Lancashire

194

Greater Manchester

184

Surrey

162

Hampshire

144

Only 600 offences were logged in detail. Of these, 154 were for lane-hogging, 143 for wheelspins or handbrake turns, 84 for undertaking and 46 for tailgating.

Are the new rules working?

The new rules appear to provide police with a catch-all offence, meaning motorists can be penalised for the full range transgressions. But not all forces are implementing – drivers in Northumbria, Durham, Dyfed-Powys, South Wales and Cleveland won’t be brought to book as these regions don’t have the facilities to offer the option of an education course. And drivers found guilty in other parts of the country may escape the fixed penalty notice as some forces choose to deal with cases by way of traffic offence reports (TOR) and re-educational courses. Anyone issued with a TOR could still face a fine though, the main difference between this and a fixed penalty notice is that the decision is made by the Central Ticketing Office (CTO), which will then issue the guilty party with a number of options that could be any, or all, from:
  • an offer of an educational course
  • a conditional offer of a fixed penalty and/or driving licence penalty points
  • appearance at a Magistrates’ Court.
So are the new rules are working? Kevin Pratt, insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “The AutoExpress figures suggest the police are using their powers correctly and aren’t just pushing up conviction rates, as some feared would happen. Road safety is the real motive for the new regime and we’ll only know if it’s been a success if we see a drop in accident rates.”

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