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Have new penalties for careless driving had an impact?

In August 2013, the government introduced new penalties for people who are charged with careless driving. This change in the law was made to give the police greater powers for dealing with careless driving on the spot rather than tying up valuable court time in sentencing. But, has this law change achieved this goal and what is the definition of careless driving in the eyes of the law?
First, ‘careless driving’ means using a motor vehicle without due care and attention or consideration for others using the road. In addition, ‘without due care and attention’ means that the standard of driving falls below that which a reasonable person would expect.
This means that the scope for careless driving is rather wide and includes eating while driving, smoking while driving, changing the radio station while driving, or perhaps even reading a newspaper at the wheel, as Roy Chubby Brown was caught doing by a mobile police camera back in the summer.
The additional powers given to police to issue on-the-spot fines for careless driving were supposed to allow them to tackle issues such as middle-lane driving on the motorway, tailgating and jumping traffic lights. At the same time, the fines for these offences were increased. This means that anyone driving in the middle lane of the motorway could be fined £100 and given four points on their licence.
However, just over a year on, an AA survey asked over 16,500 motorists if they had noticed a change in other drivers’ behaviour because of the increased penalties, and nearly three quarters had noticed no change.
In the same survey, only 29 per cent of people said they had changed their behaviour because of the new legislation. Paul Walters, Head of Roads Policy at the AA, commented that, in order to support this legislation change, enforcement had to be a priority.
Although the survey results do not prove anything statistically, it seems clear that this new legislation needs time to embed itself and that visible policing on the roads can act as a valuable deterrent against careless driving.
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