'Zero tolerance' on speeding

by LUCIE MORRIS, Daily Mail

A crackdown on speeding could see record numbers of drivers losing their licences.

Motorists twice caught going only 15mph above the 70mph motorway speed limit would face a ban.

The 'zero tolerance' regime would cost the taxpayer millions in extra policing and court charges.

Last night the RAC branded the Government proposals as 'hazardous' and 'unrealistic'.

Kevin Delaney, the RAC's highways manager, said motorists would become so concerned about breaking limits that they could actually cause accidents.

He added: 'This will be seen as highly draconian by millions of motorists. Drivers will respond by spending more time looking at their speedo than concentrating on their driving, with obvious implications for the safety of all road users.

'The concentration on excess speed is potentially much more hazardous.'

Britain has the lowest road traffic accident rate in Europe. But the Government wants to find further ways of reducing fatalities.

Drivers are not usually prosecuted for driving at 75mph on motorways, where the speed limit is 70mph, as a matter of 'goodwill' by police.

Under the plans, however, a motorist would be fined £60 and given seven penalty points. Being caught three times would result in an automatic six-month ban.

The system under consideration - outlined in the Home Office document, Road Traffic Penalties - would involve a reorganisation of the penalty points system.

Although the maximum points for disqualification would rise to 20 from the current 12, a tough 'totting' up procedure would lead to drivers being banned more easily.

Changes would be introduced in two phases.

In each phase, there would be a fixed penalty for 'modest speeders' and a harsher punishment for worse offenders.

In the first phase, anyone caught at 40 in a 30mph zone would get five points - and 12 points for 55mph.

The second, more severe phase would see anyone caught at 75mph being given seven points.

A driver caught doing 80mph would get 15 points. So if they were caught twice they would be banned for at least six months.

New technology would have to be brought in to enforce the laws. Traffic officers would be given new training.

Official figures show many drivers regularly go more than 15mph above the 70mph motorway limit.

A Home Office source said: 'Speeding is the main cause of accidents. We need to carefully consider ways to effectively stop people breaking the limits.'

Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, said: 'We don't know yet if these are going to be in force as they are only illustrative guides.

But there really is enough going on and plenty of limits and cameras around without the need for more people to be prosecuted.'

Roger Vincent of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said although speeding caused 70 per cent of accidents it was important for motorists not to feel 'persecuted'.

A Home Office spokesman said it was waiting for a 'full response' to the proposals. 'Once the responses have been considered we will then consider the next stage.'

Last week the Daily Mail reported that an increase in the use of speed cameras could save hundreds of lives a year.

But motoring organisations warned that councils, police and the Government could use the safety argument as an excuse to install hundreds of hidden cameras, aimed principally at raising revenue rather than cutting accidents.