By Jonathan McCambridge, PA
A new penalty to help tackle careless driving has been introduced in Northern Ireland.
The fixed penalty notice of £100 (€115) and three penalty points will be an additional enforcement tool for the PSNI to deal with low level offences.
The North’s Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said that in 2021, 486 people were killed or badly hurt as a result of road crashes where the cause was attributed to careless driving.
The new penalty follows consultation with the public and criminal justice bodies.
The new fixed penalty will be used for low level careless driving offences without the need for court proceedings.
The option to go to court is still retained should the offender wish to contest the offence.
Examples of careless driving include tailgating, failing to look properly, sudden braking, overtaking on the inside, turning into the path of another driver or using a mobile phone while driving.
A new fixed penalty notice of £100 and three penalty points is introduced today to help tackle careless driving in Northern Ireland. In 2021, 486 people were sadly killed or seriously injured in road collisions caused by careless driving: https://t.co/eH7nE5LggX pic.twitter.com/Ove2YVDq8b
— Department for Infrastructure (@deptinfra) May 15, 2023
Drivers who commit more serious offences will continue to be dealt with before the courts.
New arrangements will also allow the PSNI to offer remedial training to careless drivers as an alternative to the fixed penalty notice.
Costs associated with the course will be met by the offender as an alternative to receiving penalty points and paying the fixed penalty notice fine.
Dr Chris Hughes, DfI director for road safety, said: “The introduction of a new fixed penalty for careless driving is an important intervention.
“It has the potential to make enforcement of this offence more effective and reduce the instances of careless driving in the future. It also sends a clear message to drivers that the risk of being caught and punished for a careless driving offence has now increased.
“A less bureaucratic system for lower level offending means police can spend less time preparing case files for court and more time on the road observing driving behaviours.”
PSNI Chief Superintendent Sam Donaldson said: “We welcome the introduction of this new legislation which underlines our road safety messaging.
“Driving without care and attention is one of the most significant causes of the most serious collisions in which people are killed and seriously injured on our roads.
“Where appropriate, the new penalty will give drivers the opportunity to benefit from remedial training.
“The training will not only highlight the catastrophic impact that can result from careless driving, but critically it will give drivers the opportunity to educate themselves and make our roads safer for everyone.”