September 1, 2004 at 12:12 pm #9025XV16Participant
A major shake-up of the speeding laws was outlined by the Government today.
Transport Secretary Alistair Darling unveiled the proposals to create a “fairer fines” system which would mean smaller penalties for minor offences where drivers are only just over the limit. But in a bid to protect schoolchildren, tougher new penalties will see motorists hit with an instant £100 fine and six penalty points for driving at 32mph in 20mph zones.
The tougher action in residential areas is seen as a critical move to enforce careful driving – 20mph zones have halved accident rates and cut child pedestrian accidents by 70 per cent.
The new measures would mean a reduced fine and only two penalty points
for those not far above the speed limit. Minor offenders who agree to take a driving course will not have any points at all.
The moves are a central part of the Government’s plans to woo motorists ahead of the next general election amid fears that the Tories will capitalise on widespread discontent about speed cameras.
Ministers are keen to dispel the image of the cameras as money- making machines. With a rapid growth in their numbers in recent years, tens of thousands of drivers have seen points added to their licence even if they were just slightly over the speed limit.
A lower, medium and higher penalty system would apply to nearly all roads, unlike the present one-penalty fits-all system.
On 70mph limit motorways, those who drive at less than 83 mph will get the lowest penalty of £40 and two points. Those who drive between 84mph and 93mph will face a £60 penalty and three points. But motorists caught driving at 94mph or more will have to pay £100 and have six points automatically on their licence. At present, exceeding the speed limit by between five and 14mph results in an automatic three point penalty.
Breaking the limit by 25 and 29mph results in six points, while more than 30mph above the limit triggers disqualification. Getting 12 points within three years results in an automatic ban.
Magistrates have the discretion to impose variable fines but most start at ?60. A consultation document published today by Mr Darling also praises police pilot schemes offering speed awareness courses for first time offenders in the lowest speeding category.
The courses, which are at the offenders’ own expense in lieu of the two point penalty, will be rolled out nationwide if approved by consultation.
The new system would be included in new road safety legislation which will be brought forward when Parliamentary time allows. Mr Darling said: “We want to ensure that the level of the penalty fits the severity of the offence.”
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The normally careful and competent actions of a reasonable individual should be considered legal!
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