'Higher penalties' for bad drivers

Motorists who speed, use a mobile at the wheel or ignore signals and pedestrian crossings could face tougher fines under new plans.

Government proposals outline changes to victims' services and compensation, so that an extra £50 million would be raised via tougher penalties and an increase in the victims surcharge.

At the moment, fines of £60 are handed out for driving while using a phone and for failing to wear a seatbelt, but these could increase to between £80 and £100, according to the Department for Transport.

Those who use their phones at the wheel could have an accident and risk theircar insurance , as their attention is taken away from the road

A consultation document, which was published by justice secretary Ken Clarke, said: "The proposed increases for motoring offences include those in relation to excessive speed, control of a vehicle, mobile phone use, ignoring signals and pedestrian crossings, and failure to wear a seatbelt.

"The exact amount of the increase will depend on a detailed assessment of what effect the increases would have on payment rates, and on public consultation by the Department for Transport early this year."

However, motoring groups were critical of plans to increase fines in order to help victims.

Director of the RAC Foundation, Professor Stephen Glaister, said: "Clearly speeding motorists are law breakers but their punishment should fit the crime, not turn into a tax paid only by this particular group of offenders because it is easy to collect."

Copyright Press Association 2012