Most of us have been there. Driving on a motorway at a sensible speed in the correct lane and seeing a "tailgater" in the rear view mirror. Or being frustrated by the "middle lane hoggers" who drive slower than the motorists in the nearside lane. Not only are these practices annoying though - the AA lists them along with mobile phone use as the three pet hates of drivers - they are also dangerous and illegal.
The problem with clamping down on this kind of careless driving behaviour is twofold. Firstly, there are fewer traffic police on the roads to spot these offences - there has been a 20% drop in traffic police numbers over the last decade. Secondly, and importantly, police simply do not have the time to take action in these cases. With the paperwork and time required to issue a summons and go to court in order to effect a prosecution, officers can understandably be reluctant to take action.
All this is about to change at the end of this month.
From July 1st, a raft of changes in motoring legislation will allow police to immediately issue a Fixed Penalty Notice with £100 fines and penalty points for a range of careless driving offences that could otherwise have gone to court.
And the changes to be made also include the first increases in fines since 2000. The fine for using a mobile phone or not wearing a seatbelt will increase from £60 to £100; and for driving without insurance from £200 to £300.
The AA and RAC have welcomed this news, hoping that it will lead to safer roads for law-abiding drivers. Others, including the Institute of Advanced Motorists, have been more cautious in their reaction, highlighting the decline in traffic police numbers as being a negative factor that needs to be addressed.
We've done an office survey here at Tiger.co.uk HQ and there's overwhelming support for the changes, especially to the increased fine for mobile phone use - something that is thought to slow driving reaction times more than in some drink- or drug-driving cases.
But we still think that more could be done to penalise those caught driving without insurance. This problem adds, indirectly, over £30 to every car insurance policy and it is estimated that around 1.5 million people are driving uninsured. The increase in the fine for this offence to £300 is a move in the right direction. But at well under half the cost of the average car insurance policy
, we think that this could still look light a green light for uninsured motorists.
What do you think?