New road safety strategy

Focus on wilfully dangerous drivers is welcome

12 May 2011

This week the Department for Transport set out its plans for road safety under a new strategic framework.

Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond said, "We will focus relentlessly on cracking down on the really reckless few who are responsible for a disproportionately large number of accidents and deaths on our roads. By allowing the police to focus resources on dealing with these drivers, we can make our roads even safer."

Strategy highlights

The new Strategic Framework for Road Safety sets out the Government's plans to:

  • Make careless driving a fixed penalty offence to allow the police more effectively to tackle the wilfully reckless driving that puts other road users in danger.
  • Require offenders to pass a test before they regain their licence after a serious disqualification.
  • Make greater use of powers to seize vehicles to keep the most dangerous drivers off the roads.
  • Increase the level of fixed penalty notices for traffic offences from £60 to between £80 and £100 and penalty points.
  • Improve enforcement against drink and drug driving.
  • Increase the use of police-approved educational courses that can be offered in place of fixed penalty notices to encourage safer driving behaviour.
  • Launch a new post-test qualification for new drivers – to replace the current Pass Plus scheme – including an assessment process to give insurers confidence that it will create safer drivers who can expect to pay lower insurance costs.
  • Continue to improve the driving and motorcycling training processes.
  • Create a new website to allow local people to easily compare the road safety performance of their local area against similar areas.
  • Launch an annual road safety day.

The new fixed penalty fine system will free up nore police time to look for bad driving as well as increase the perceived risk of being caught.

Edmund King, AA President

AA response

The AA has welcomed the government's new road safety framework, and especially the concentration on more aggressive and wilfully dangerous drivers.

Edmund King, AA president said "The new fixed penalty fine system will free up more police time to look for bad driving as well as increase the perceived risk of being caught."

"It must be ensured that the new powers are used to concentrate on those who wilfully drive badly – for example tailgaters, not those who make momentary slips and errors. We are pleased that on the spot fines will not be issued."

It is important that this system is confined to bad driving as observed by a police officer and where the driver is stopped at the time. It should be combined with a system which allows the driver to be sent on a course or to be fined, as well as having the option to contest the penalty in court. AA Populus polls have shown that over 80% of AA members are in favour of the use of education as an alternative to prosecution for driving offences. We are glad to see that this concept is to be developed.

Retesting and retraining those who are disqualified is a logical step forward too.

It has long been a major concern that uninsured drivers are fined less than the cost of the premium they have not paid. The AA welcomes the decision to review fines and fixed penalties for this offence and this should help deter the uninsured drivers who add tens of pounds to every legal driver's premiums.

We all need to work together to reduce road deaths during this Decade of Action on road safety.