It can be easy to see fines as just a pain in the neck; something to have a moan about or (more cynically) as a revenue raiser for the government. But, as anyone involved in courier work knows, fines are just one of many ways the authorities try to keep our roads safer. They encourage good behaviour on the road, which is something that especially benefits professional drivers who spend a lot of time at the wheel.
Read on to find out how recent changes to the law are already having a positive impact.
Spring 2017 saw a series of changes to how those who break driving laws are dealt with. In this piece, weâ€™ll focus on two: dealing with mobile phone use and speeding â€“ two of the biggest causes of danger to road users.
Those in the delivery industry know as well as anyone else how dangerous it can be to be distracted with a phone call while driving. Who hasnâ€™t had a brief moment of panic as they see a car make a dangerous manoeuvre, only to look over and see the driver on their phone?
The government certainly seems to have taken notice. In March 2017 they introduced a new, higher fixed penalty for using your mobile phone while driving. Offenders now face up to six points on their licence and a Â£200 fine â€“ more than double the previous rate.
How fast youâ€™re going can be the difference between a little bump and a major crash. Unfortunately, your safety is also determined by how fast everyone else on the road is going. This can be especially insulting for professional drivers who keep to the speed limit despite the deadlines and demands of courier work. To help keep all drivers safe, new rules were introduced in April 2017 that drastically changed the penalty structure for speeding offences. At worst, offenders can now be fined up to 150% of their weekly income.
Itâ€™s one thing to talk about new penalty structures and punishments, but the roads arenâ€™t actually any safer unless drivers are keeping to the rules. A new policy is useless if it doesnâ€™t actually stop people driving dangerously.
Happily, analysis of Ministry of Justice data suggests the new fines are having the desired effect. According to Warranty Direct the number of fines given out for speeding increased by around 47% in the period from 2013 to 2016. After the new fines were introduced, however, that increase was turned into a sizeable drop, with 8% fewer speeding fines issued in 2017.
Even better, everyone engaged in courier work can worry a little less about mobile phone users making the roads dangerous. The same data showed a truly staggering decrease in fines issued for phone use. Where over 11,000 were given out between March and December 2016, that figure dropped to almost half in 2017, with only around 6,000 phone users fined.
All this can only be positive for all road users. Awareness-raising campaigns and other initiatives have likely contributed to this positive effect, for sure. But itâ€™s hard to deny that real changes are only visible since the new fines were introduced. The data speaks for itself: proactive, sensible policy has made the roads safer.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.
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