Department for Transport Tackling Speeding, Drink and Drug Drivers

A crackdown on the menace of reckless driving was announced by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick today as he unveiled a range of new proposals to tackle drink and drug drivers and other dangers on Britain's roads.

A major new road safety consultation sets out plans to help the police better enforce against drug and drink driving, as well as exploring whether there is a need to change the law on drug driving or on the drink drive limit.

It also examines the need to toughen penalties and make it easier for police to tackle other forms of reckless driving to cut the toll of nearly 3,000 road deaths a year.

Jim Fitzpatrick said: "Britain has one of the best road safety records in the world and the number of people killed or hurt has fallen dramatically in the last decade. But too many people are still dying on our roads.

"To tackle this we must crack down on the most dangerous drivers - the selfish minority whose reckless behaviour can have a catastrophic impact on innocent victims and their families. But I am also clear we must ensure balance and not impact unnecessarily on the majority of motorists who drive safely.

"The consultation I am launching today will send a very clear message to the dangerous minority that if they ignore the rules of the road, they will be caught, and they will be punished in a way that fits the crime."

The consultation includes proposals on a range of issues.

* 1 in 5 drivers killed in road accidents may have an impairing drug in their system, according to independent research. Therefore, we will explore whether a new offence should be created to bring drug driving more into line with drink driving, by making it illegal to drive after taking a drug which is both illegal and impairing. We are also planning a major new publicity campaign on drug driving and are proposing to help the police better enforce the current drug driving law through improved training and equipment.

* On drink driving, we plan to remove an outdated option for drivers caught moderately above the drink drive limit to request a second test by a doctor and potentially fall back under the limit while waiting for them to arrive. Today's more accurate breath testing equipment makes this no longer necessary.

* To improve enforcement we are also providing £2 million to fund the introduction of new digital breath testing equipment, to help free up police resources, as well as helping the police introduce targeted drink drive checkpoints to strengthen deterrence.

* We are also seeking views and evidence on the question of reducing the legal alcohol limit, on which we have a completely open mind.

* We are proposing to make careless driving a fixed penalty offence, which will enable the police to enforce against careless drivers who admit fault with a minimum of bureaucracy, freeing up police resources. The fixed penalty would be a £60 fine and 3 penalty points.

* On speeding, we propose to introduce a higher fixed penalty of 6 penalty points for drivers who exceed the speed limit by a dangerous, and very large margin - 20mph or more above most speed limits - because research suggests this will be a strong deterrent. Speed kills - it is a factor in 29% of fatal accidents - and extreme speeders are more likely to be involved in an accident, with more severe consequences when they are. We do not propose to change the level of fines.

* We are proposing a major review of remedial training and testing schemes to ensure consistency and common standards.

20 November 2008 Staff

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