Crackdown on Speeding and Drug-driving

AA Response

20 November 2008

Today Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick unveiled a range of new proposals to tackle drink and drug drivers and other dangers on Britain's roads.

In brief, Government proposes to:

  • Create a new offence to bring drug driving more into line with drink driving, by making it illegal to drive after taking a drug which is both illegal and impairing
  • Remove the option for drivers caught moderately above the drink drive limit to request a second test by a doctor and potentially fall back under the limit while waiting for them to arrive
  • Fund the introduction of new digital breath testing equipment, to help free up police resources, as well as helping the police introduce targeted drink drive checkpoints to strengthen deterrence
  • Make careless driving a fixed penalty offence to enable the police to enforce against careless drivers who admit fault with a minimum of bureaucracy. The fixed penalty would be a £60 fine and 3 penalty points
  • Introduce a higher fixed penalty of 6 penalty points for drivers who exceed the speed limit by a dangerous, and very large margin – 20mph or more above most speed limits

In addition, Government is also seeking views and evidence on the question of reducing the legal alcohol limit though no new limit has been proposed in the consultation.

More details about this 'Road Safety Compliance' consultation can be found on the department for transport website at: http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/compliance/ . The final date for responses to the consultation, which may be from organisations or individuals is 27th February 2009.

AA response

Following the Government's announcement of a consultation into tougher penalties for speeding and drink-driving, the AA comments:

"More than two thirds of drivers support the idea of higher penalties for those who break the speed limit by a considerable margin. However, the AA's main concern is that large drops in the speed limit, for example 60 to 30, are clearly signed," says AA President Edmund King.

"It is bad enough to get three points for failing to see a sign, but many will baulk at six points, especially if the sign is hidden because of poor maintenance. Clear speed limit signing is vital if this change of penalty is to be made."

The AA is also pleased that £2m is to be spent on extending the THINK! campaign into drug driving, a continually growing road safety problem.

King adds: "Tougher laws and better enforcement methods are also needed, but these need more development to ensure they are fair and have no unwanted side effects. The new fixed penalty for minor careless driving will improve the flexibility of punishments available to the police for lesser offences, and avoid much workload for police and courts. The opportunity for the public to make clear its preference for a lower legal limit and changes to how we enforce drink driving law is also welcome."

The AA Populus Panel showed that 66 per cent of drivers support a reduction in the legal limit, and 79 per cent support wider breath testing powers.

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20 November 2008