Commenting on the consultation on changes to the treatment of penalties for careless driving, Robert Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said “The proposal to include careless driving in the list of potential Fixed Penalty Notices was included in a consultation in November 2008. At the time, PACTS gave a cautious welcome to the proposal. That remains our position today.
“In 2011, just over 26,000 drivers were prosecuted for careless or inconsiderate driving according to Ministry of Justice figures. The question will be whether there is an increase in enforcement as a result of this proposal. To enforce a FPN properly, there will need to be a greater police presence. At a time of cuts in police budgets and reductions in dedicated roads policing, increases in visible enforcement seem a little unlikely.
“Deterrence works through a combination of certainty, severity and speed. The most important of these is certainty. If there is a small likelihood of being caught, drivers will continue to behave illegally.
“In addition, the Department will need to ensure that the effect of any courses is monitored carefully. The evidence for the effectiveness of educational interventions is limited. Placing such weight on such evidence as the DfT cites suggests that this is a proposal undertaken more in hope than as a result of experience.”