Good or Bad?
Well there is nothing more certain here than that motorists are going to have differing views in respect of the latest powers being handed to the Police, allowing them to pull up motorists who they feel have driven carelessly and issue them with an on-the-spot fine and even penalty points.
The questions that are being asked are firstly, if our already under pressure Police force have the man-power to actually do this and secondly, does this mean that the Police officer becomes judge, jury and executioner, for as we all know that one persons view of an incident, is so often different to some one else’s view of it. You only have to listen to people talking about a football match to know that – Its all in the eye of the beholder!
None of us want to hurt anyone on the road and purely because of our sense of self preservation, none of us want to hurt ourselves. That said, accidents happen all the time and some times that’s just what they are, they are accidents, as someone makes a mistake or misjudges a situation, but now, does it now mean these innocently perpetrated happenings will be classified as “careless”?
We need to bring habitually bad drivers to book, on that we all agree, but to penalise somebody for a mistake, is a bit tough, because whilst you can possibly force a deliberately bad driver into changing their ways by fining them and threatening to take them off the road, there is no way to penalise of fine somebody into “never ever” making an innocent mistake again, for if there were, there would be no accidents in this world, so fining these people becomes simply a punishment for daring to be human and I want to know who dares cast the first stone?
Amongst the offences that would be subject to this process are, irresponsible manoeuvres, tail-gating, undertaking or cutting up other drivers, but obviously there are more and in fact it seems that anything the Police Officer involved considers to be careless driving, becomes careless driving.
The problem is with all laws of this type, is that they are all encompassing and a normally careful and considerate driver could easily find himself in trouble because of a small error, whilst the habitual lunatics we all see on the road from time to time will not be treated any differently. So whether it’s a rare mistake in an unblemished driving career, or deliberate bad and aggressive driving, we are all in the same hat to potentially get an £80 on the spot fine and points on our licenses.
The bandings (or seriousness) ratings are:- non-endorsable with a fine, endorsable with 3 penalty points and a fine, or a prosecution in the courts.
Statistics show that prosecutions for careless driving have fallen steadily over the last 20 years, but an all-knowing official from the Department of Transport said that they don’t believe the incidents of “actual” careless driving have fallen at the same rate. What is being implied here is that we are still driving careless, but we are getting away with it! So, these new powers will give the Police the power to crack down on these things and penalise offenders “as a deterrent”
Pleasingly, there is apparently to be a right of appeal, which is only proper, as under the previous methods, we had the right to stand up in court and give our side of the story. You do however wonder if there is a chance of the fine or points escalating if you decide to contest the Police Officers judgement.
I haven’t heard any mention of inconsiderate drivers in all this and by that I mean the ones that sit in the outside lane at 55mph on a 70mph road, and then complain they have been tail-gated and I see these lane-huggers everyday, I don’t know about you? These seemingly innocent people are also responsible for another of the offences that are covered in these new powers and that’s ‘undertaking’ and lets face it, who overtakes on the inside out of choice? I have a long commute each day and I see drivers ‘undertake’ for no other reason than the inconsiderate driver in the outside lane wont move over. So come on chaps, add lane hugging at slow speeds into the list of offences and do you know what, you will reduce tail-gating and overtaking on the inside at a stroke!
One point however I have to mention, as nobody else seems to have done so, is how is this going to affect motorcyclists, as many of them drive aggressively 100% of the time, pushing in between cars, squeezing down the middle of lines of traffic and overtaking you so close that if you moved an inch to the right, you would hit them. Still on that subject, clearly speeding is dangerous, but at this time, you cant be convicted for it on “judgement alone” and I see bikers roar away from the lights outside our office block every day and its clear they are going far far faster than 30mph, so will these new powers allow an officers judgement be used here, or do we have to rely on goal line technology as we do for every other speeding offence?
The Police are under massive pressure trying to do a difficult job, with much reduced budgets and you have to ask yourself, do they have the time and the man-power to use these new powers, for as we all know, (for example) using a hand-held mobile whilst driving is illegal, but I see it almost every day and so it seems the threat of the fine is enough to make sure honest people don’t use a hand held phone whilst driving, whilst the others simply don’t care, as the chances of them getting caught are pretty small.
The Police do a difficult job and whilst we know they are only there to help us, sometimes it might not seem that way. For most of us, the only time we will ever come across a Police Officer or fall fowl of the law is when we are driving and that doesn’t make us bad people. It does however make us feel aggrieved if we believe we have been unfairly treated following an arbitrary ruling on our driving style for which we have very little right of appeal.