64. The sanction for speeding is in two parts: fines
and the risk of disqualification. Speeding offences detected by
police action and by cameras can be dealt with by way of fixed
penalty. A fixed penalty involves payment of £60 and three
For those convicted of speeding, as ACPO notes, the level of fine
is more or less irrelevant, but the threat of disqualification
is a real deterrent.
Surveys undertaken for the AA support this contention. There are
more severe penalties for those convicted of careless or dangerous
driving; excessive speed is the most common element among dangerous
Dangerous driving can carry a prison sentence, but this is usually
only given when a death has occurred.
65. Witnesses argued that current penalties for speeding,
as well as for other road traffic offences, are inadequate,
and in particular:
- penalties for speeding should be higher, and judges
and magistrates did not adequately use the penalties available
- there were particular problems in deterring unlicensed
and disqualified drivers.
66. The Government has recognised that there is a
problem. The Road Safety Strategy in March 2000 stated that the
"Undertaking an urgent review led by
the Home Office of penalties for road traffic offences".
The Consultation Paper (Road Traffic Penalties) was
issued in December 2000.
The review proposed (Proposal 18) that a new fixed penalty system
for speeding offences should provide for two levels of fixed penalty
with a higher level of points awarded to those exceeding the limit
by a wide margin. The higher tier of fixed penalty includes a
fine of £90 and an endorsement more than double the standard
number of points".
Responses were sought by March 2001.
Unfortunately, to date there has been no further announcement.
The Home Office memorandum claimed that because there were over
1,000 responses it has taken a long time to consider them. We
note that the 13,000 responses to the Planning Green Paper were
analysed in under two months.
67. While several of our witnesses called for stronger
wanted the speedy implementation of the proposals in the Consultation
Paper as a first step to improving the present situation. ACPO
strongly supported Proposal 18. Existing penalties for speeding
are inadequate. The Home Office's dilatoriness in implementing
the proposals in its Consultation Paper on road traffic penalties
issued in 18 months ago is unacceptable. We recommend that the
proposals in the Consultation Paper be implemented without delay.
There should be legislation in the next session of Parliament.
68. The worst offenders have a disproportionate effect
There is a concern that magistrates are too often unwilling to
give heavier sentences to serious offenders, and, in particular
a reluctance to disqualify drivers. Magistrates are able to exercise
"special reasons not to disqualify". We were informed
that this power is not being exercised consistently, and that
serial offenders are escaping disqualification.
We recommend that the Home Office and Lord Chancellor's Department
issue clearer guidance about the use of magistrates' discretion
in "exercising special reasons not to disqualify".