On-spot fines for careless driving

Police will be given the power to fine careless motorists on the spot instead of taking them to court.

The move is part of a scheme to make Britain's roads safer and should help motorists avoid paying unnecessarycar insurance premiums for accidents that can be prevented.

Those who tailgate, undertake or cut up other drivers could be handed an instant penalty of up to £100.

The Department of Transport said the new strategy would also include a new crackdown on drug-driving as well as loopholes which allow people to escape drink-driving charges.

Disqualified motorists will have to undergo retraining and may have to take another test before they get their licence back.

In cases where the offences are more serious, the court will have powers to seize the owners' vehicles.

But in a written statement to MPs, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has announced that under the new strategy, new drivers who have just passed their tests and need to improve their skills while on the road, will be given extra support.

A source close to Mr Hammond said the new strategy represented a "sea change" from Labour's approach, which relied heavily on speed cameras and failed to differentiate between problem drivers and essentially safe motorists who make an honest mistake.

The new approach is aimed at targeting genuinely reckless drivers, rather than wasting police and court time by putting generally law-abiding motorists in the dock.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "This strategy certainly addresses anti-social behaviour on the roads but it is questionable whether it tackles the key areas which cause injury and death.

"Either way, the three things needed to make these plans work are enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. With police services being cut, it is far from certain the desired results can be achieved. Without adequate enforcement there is no strategy."

Copyright © Press Association 2011