Penalty Points Are No Deterrent - Drivers

Nearly two-in-three drivers think the current UK system of dishing out penalty points for speeding convictions is unfair and insufficient to deter people from committing road offences, according to a new poll.

Only 36 per cent of respondents said they felt that the set-up - where drivers exceeding the limit are given at least three points, which can lead to a ban when totted up - was adequate to deal with Britain’s motorists in the 21st Century.

Research carried out by award-winning non-standard insurance intermediary The A&A Group Ltd showed that the youngest drivers who took part in the survey, in the 16 to 25-year-old bracket, had the most points on their licences, with an average of seven. This dropped down to 5.25 for 26 to 34-year-olds, 4.5 for 35 to 50-year-olds and three for those aged 51 and over.

The A&A Group is one of the only companies that looks at each customer’s case individually rather than lumping together people with convictions and immediately bumping-up their premiums.

Tony Allen, Chief Executive of The A&A Group, said it was time for a debate on how best to police the roads in an era when roadside officers were being replaced by mechanised cameras, with education being preferable to criminalising drivers.

“Our survey shows that of those caught speeding, not all told their insurance company. Those that were honest saw their premiums rise as a result of the associated points,” he said.

“There is often no account taken of the circumstances of the offence. For instance, we recognise the difference between someone caught doing 85mph on a motorway and someone doing 50mph in a school zone and assess the cases accordingly - but many insurers do not.

“Motorists have lost faith in the points system so now is the time to take a fresh look at how best to police the roads and punish people who break the laws according to the severity of the offence.

“It would seem that the sheer volume of cameras on our roads and the increasing number of drivers with points on their licences are reducing the effectiveness of the existing points system - and that is an issue that needs addressing.”

”A number of alternative solutions have been put forward and I would urge the Government to look at these seriously. One such idea is that of stepped penalty points - so the more over the speed limit someone is, the more points they get on their licence.

“It might be that where someone is no more than 15 per cent over the limit, they get one point. Between 15 and 25 per cent would earn two points and up to 50 per cent, three points. Any more than this could lead to an immediate ban and subsequent court appearance.

“This could even be tweaked for different roads so, for instance, much harsher penalties and smaller margins for roads near schools.

“Another option might be to offer, where applicable, speed awareness courses as an alternative to a fixed penalty and points. Such schemes already operate in some areas of the country.

“Under this rule, the £60 that would usually be paid as a fine is taken as payment for the course, but the driver escapes points on their licence.

“Whichever way you look at it, the current system is simply criminalising drivers and an alterative needs to be found.”

Other findings in the survey included the fact that only 16 per cent of people thought speed cameras promoted safety.

22 January 2006 Staff

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