It’s been a while, but it’s good to be back blogging again!

Loads of people have been asking JSF Driving School HQ about changes that may or may not have happened, some rumour, some not, since they took driving lessons!  We are back answering the most frequently asked questions, scratching that driving related itch, and spreading news that should be of interest to all drivers whether learner drivers or experienced!  

The most recent itch involves careless driving and recent changes to police powers.

Yes, major new powers came into force for on 16th August, 2013.  Police can now issue on-the-spot penalties for careless or inconsiderate driving.  The aim is to give police greater flexibility when dealing with less serious careless driving offences, avoiding time and resource sapping court processes.

From the man himself, Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond said:

“Careless driving puts innocent people’s lives at risk – that is why we have made it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice for low level offending rather than taking these offenders to court.”

So what does it all mean?

Basically, if you, as a driver, put other road users at risk by poor driving, such as tailgating or hogging the middle lane, you can now be faced with on-the-spot penalties.

Most existing fixed penalty levels for motoring offences, such as not wearing a seat belt or using a phone at the wheel, will rise to £100.

The fixed penalty levels for most motoring offences has not increased since 2000, but now stand at:

  • where the driver does not receive points on their licence (a non-endorsable offence) the £30 fixed penalty notice has risen to £50
  • where points are given (an endorsable offence) the £60 and non-endorsable fixed penalty notice has risen to £100
  • an endorsable £120 fixed penalty notice has risen to £200
  • the fixed penalty notice for driving with no insurance has risen from £200 to £300

When it comes to speeding and other existing fixed penalty notice offences, the police can also offer careless drivers the option of remedial training, and although penalty levels have increased, penalty points haven’t changed.

Fixed penalty notices for parking, waiting and obstruction offences stay the same.

That is the science bit out of the way.

Reactions have been mixed.  The Institute of Advanced Motorists expressed concerns that  fixed penalty tickets for careless driving can downplay the seriousness of the offence, whilst others, such as Quentin Wilson, questioned whether there would be enough traffic police to make the changes work.

At JSF we have noticed that motorway lane hogging has received much of the hype.  It will be interesting to see just what happens when, using police video evidence, a judgement has to made as to when anticipating traffic ahead becomes hogging the middle lane of the motorway?

Of course none of this will apply to you guys as I am sure you are all considerate drivers!  A couple of tips to remember?

  • Remember the Two Second Rule where a driver should ideally stay at least two seconds behind any vehicle that is travelling in front of them, as measured when the rear end of the vehicle in front passes any distinct and fixed point on the roadway.  This provides a safety buffer, allowing the following driver time to respond and avoid collision. In wet conditions the number of seconds should be increased.
  • On motorways, you should be travelling on the inside lane unless overtaking or instructed to do so.