Low penalty rates for careless driving

Low penalty rates for careless driving 14th April 2014

Few drivers are being penalised for careless driving offences, official figures suggest.

Since August 2013, tailgating and staying in the middle lane when it is not necessary have come under the list of offences. But according to the Daily Telegraph, which obtained records from 17 of the UK's police forces through freedom of information requests, there are only 54 cases where drivers have received penalties for tailgating since this time. There were only 21 cases where drivers were fined for hogging the middle lane.

What's more, these offences only occurred among eight of the forces due to confusion over whether instances were distinguishable from other cases of poor lane discipline.

Similarly, earlier in the year, a freedom of information request from MSN Cars found that only 13 drivers had been fined for lane hogging since the law against it was introduced.

It found that Surrey was the police force that had issued the most fixed penalty notices for hogging the middle lane, having issued 11. Since the laws came into effect, it had also handed out 25 penalties for speeding and 33 for using a mobile phone while driving.

Meanwhile, in Kent, no penalties were given out for lane hogging although 2,589 drivers were fined for speeding during the same period.

The penalty for middle lane hogging or tailgating is a £100 fine and three points on the driver's license. This was part of a raft of changes to careless driving laws, which were deemed to be anti-social but not serious enough for offenders to go to court.

At the time, the Police Federation said that these new laws would be unenforceable. While there is not a definitive list of offences that are considered to constitute careless driving, these do include overtaking on the inside lane and eating or drinking while behind the wheel.

The Telegraph also found that of the 43 police forces across England and Wales, only 17 were able to point out tailgating as an offence that was distinct from careless driving, which drivers had been penalised for.

Posted by Danielle Barge