Cultural shift NOT £10,000 court fines will curb speeding motorists

Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 10:55
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Just Motor Law

Expert Opinion: Matt Reynolds, Just Motor Law

There is an eternal struggle between harsher financial penalties and better education in the war against motor offences.

Culture change was the decisive factor in halving drink drive casualties over the last 25 years in the UK – notably following the ‘Drink Driving Wrecks Lives’ series of public information adverts. The hard-hitting TV and billboard ads have engendered the widely held view that drink driving is wrong and shameful.

For professional drivers and those motorists who rely on driving for a living the personal consequences of being convicted of drink driving are severe. A loss of licence and possibly their job can begin a life-changing spiral of events.

A different approach is being taken by the government with its current proposals to raise maximum speeding fines on UK motorways from £2,500 to £10,000. Financial penalties set at the right level can be an effective way of punishing criminals and deterring them from further offending, according to Jeremy Wright, the justice minister.

Critics argue that motorists will shy away from challenging speeding tickets for fear of getting hit with a ‘draconian’ fine they cannot afford.

In reality the courts determine the exact amount an offender will pay in relation to his or her income so the vast majority of offenders will not be paying £10,000 or anything like it if the new laws come into force. For the record, the average speeding fine imposed by magistrates is currently £150.

For fleet drivers, the temptation to push the limit is great. Time is money. For example, a 10mph difference in average speed for six hours on a motorway could equate to an extra hour in journey time.

Safer, faster, more comfortable vehicles have done little to encourage drivers to kill their speed and motorists sometimes have genuinely no idea that they are significantly exceeding speed limits – especially on open stretches of motorway.

More responsible driving – and that generally means slower – will only be achieved if motorists believe they are putting their life and the lives of fellow citizens at risk.

For businesses to promote such a corporate cultural shift there must be a benefit. Nowadays, companies are savvy at using their socially responsible behaviour as a marketing tool, such as ethical sourcing, reducing their carbon footprint and paying employees a living wage. All these things make great PR and can influence consumers.

Perhaps the next stage for businesses will be training truly ‘speed safe’ drivers who commit to a proud boast of staying within speed limits on our roads no matter what the circumstances or time pressures? Will consumers buy into it? Or ultimately will pressures of cost and efficiency prevail?

Matt Reynolds is an experienced Motoring Solicitor who gets the best results for his clients. Through Just Motor Law, he defends clients in both Magistrates and Crown Courts all over the country and his expertise in motoring law is evident from his extremely high success rate in defending cases and ensuring the most favourable outcomes for his clients.

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