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Government considers increased driving offence fines and introducing fixed penalties for careless driving

Increase proposed in fines for speeding and phoning at the wheel

The Government is consulting on new road safety levies, with harsher financial punishments for careless drivers who infringe road laws.

Under the new proposals, fixed penalty notices could be given on the spot, allowing police to crack down on minor incidents as soon as they see them - and keeping them free from paperwork. Educational training could also be given in lieu of licence endorsements.

The proposals also include increased fines for many offences, such as speeding and using a phone while driving - both known to be factors in deaths and injuries of cyclists in recent years - as well as not wearing a seatbelt.  The proposals would see penalties for these offences increase from £60 to £90.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: "Careless driving is a major public concern and a cause of deaths and injuries on our roads.

"These changes support both police enforcement and, for some cases, the associated offer of educational training for motorists unaware of the full, potential consequences of driving carelessly.

"We also need to make sure that the penalties for a wide range of fixed penalty motoring offences are set at reasonable levels, consistent with the potentially severe consequences of some infringements."

The proposed fixed penalty for careless driving will be £90 with three points on the driver's licence. The most serious example will continue to go through court, where offenders may face higher penalties.

Graduated fixed penalties for breaching rules such as driver hour regulations are also being considered. The Times reporter Mary Bowers, who is still unresponsive in hospital after a crash with an HGV in November, was hit by a driver who had worked two jobs at once for two different haulage companies, clocking up well over the legal maximum of hours.

Fixed penalty levels for most of these motoring offences have not increased since the year 2000.

The proposals have sparked the old speed camera debate, with the Taxpayer's Alliance saying that research they did last year found the rate of decline in road accidents slowed when speed cameras were introduced, and that panic braking and erratic driving to avoid being caught was dangerous for all road users.

Claire Armstrong, co founder of campaign group Safe Speed told the Daily Telegraph: "Road safety is not measured in miles an hour".

The increased fines will net the Government around £33.5 million extra a year - despite the coalition partners having accused the Labour government of using fines as a 'cash cow'.

How much of that revenue will go towards cycle safety schemes, which would arguably save more lives, remains to be seen.

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