Martin Wedge, MD of the Oxfordshire-based group, says there are inherent contradictions in new plans to give UK magistrates the powers to hand out up to £10,000 in fines for speeding drivers just days after it controversially shelved a scheme to delay young drivers taking to the road immediately after passing their driving tests.
‘The Government seems to be “crashing in the same car” by abandoning plans to delay youngsters taking to the roads after their driving tests by up to a year,’ he said.
‘The review of tougher penalties on driving offences is not inherently flawed, but so soon after it ignored the groundswell of evidence on young driving, seems to be all stick and no carrot.
‘Just about every driving group criticised the Government for shelving the new driving test rules, particularly as these would have more long-term impact upon driving behaviours than draconian fines. We need to look at longer-term strategies for encouraging good driving.’
Wedge was referring to the evidence from RoSPA, the AA and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) that all highlighted the fact that one in four fatal accidents involved a young driver and one in five young drivers will have an accident within six months of passing their test.
He continued: ‘The Government is thinking of higher penalties – up to £10,000 for speeding and unlimited fines for drink driving, but this is putting the cart before the horse. Road deaths, according to the IAM, cost the UK economy £16bn per year. But solving the problem through longer training and education is a more sustainable way of reducing that cost that any quick – fix large fines – those that cannot readily be paid and will cost the courts thousands of pounds to enforce.
‘Let us instead look more at a model that better balances endorsement of good driving and enforcement of existing laws against bad behaviour behind the wheel.’