Headlines: September 2nd, 2004

Government plans to look at changes to the system of penalties for drivers caught speeding have been welcomed by the RAC Foundation. Transport Secretary Alistair Darling has launched a consultation document suggesting variations in the fines and penalty points imposed on motorists depending on to what extent they break limits.The consultation document also welcomes proposals by the police for first-time offenders in the lower speeding category to be offered speed awareness courses, which will be put in place nationwide, in lieu of two penalty points. The drivers will pay for the courses themselves. The idea has been tried successfully in two police force areas.

RAC Executive Director, Edmund King, said inappropriate speed was a problem that needed to be addressed by a package of measures including driver education, a review of speed limits to ensure they are realistic better signing of limits to include interactive warning signs.

If changes are made to the points system these should be clearly linked to the introduction of more widespread speed awareness courses as also suggested, ” he said. The Foundation believes much greater emphasis should be put on driver re-education as an alternative to prosecution and has again stressed its view that automatic enforcement by camera is no substitute for traffic police.

The Foundation has campaigned for some time for a scheme of national speed awareness courses following national guidelines as research suggests those attending courses are less likely to re-offend. They want all courses to have a practical element with the offender going on the road with an advanced instructor and say more than 25,000 drivers have already had the benefit of such courses in Lancashire. The Foundation also wants courses to be offered to a wider range of drivers than at present.