Greater Manchester Police have issued 96 on-the-spot fines for careless driving in the three months since they were introduced, according to statistics released under the freedom of information act.
Changes introduced in August mean the police can now issue £100 fines and three points on the offender’s driving licence for acts such as tailgating and middle lane hogging.
These offences would previously have had to go through court.
Of the 96 fixed penalty notices for careless driving issued by Greater Manchester Police, 23 were issued to drivers under the age of 24
In the same time period, they issued a total of 21,368 fixed penalty notices for other motoring offences.
In the South, Hampshire police have issued 54 notices for careless driving since changes came into affect while neighbouring counties Sussex and Dorset have issued 33 and 14 respectively.
In October Hampshire Constabulary observed 227 driving offences across the county as part of a five-day operation.
Offences included a lorry driver brushing his teeth and a woman applying make-up.
The five day operation resulted in 198 motorists being prosecuted for driving offences.
Road safety MP Stephen Hammond said when the changes came into force: ‘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. We have also increased penalties for a range of driving offences to a level which reflects their seriousness and which will ensure that they are consistent with other similar penalty offences.’
The AA welcomed the changes, but have raised concerns about the police’s resources to deal with the issue.
Head of public affairs, Paul Watters said: ‘They [the changes to police powers] were needed because the police don’t really want to have to take someone to court if they’ve done something broadly wrong [such as tailgating or middle-lane hogging] which has perhaps inconvenienced someone but not endangered someone.
‘Falling police numbers won’t help, but at least if some cases are being brought forward it will act as a deterrent to others.’
In response to these comments, Hampshire police said said in a statement: ‘Issuing fixed penalty notices is business as usual for Hampshire Constabulary and we carry out education and enforcement activities year-round in order to improve road safety in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.’
Author: Tom Wright
News writer for The Justice Gap and student journalist at the University of Winchester