Proposals to issue fixed penalty notices to drivers for careless driving would "trivialise the offence" and lead to "increases in car insurance premiums," AA has warned.
The subsequent increase in the number of fixed penalty notices issued if the proposed measures become a reality, will not only jeopardise the deterrent effect, but will also result in higher car insurance premiums.
The car insurance provider is concerned that instances of 'careless driving' will rise when the police can issue penalty notices on the spot; currently, they have to be proven in a magistrate's court, resulting in a maximum of nine points on the offender's licence and a £5,000 fine.
Director of AA Insurance, Simon Douglas thinks that the proposed plans will group all instances of careless driving together, when in reality there are varying degrees of seriousness.
Currently, "the offence attracts a penalty that reflects the seriousness of the offence," he said. "Making this a fixed penalty reduces it to a ‘one size fits all' offence open to interpretation by the police officer.
"Other fixed penalties are ‘black-and-white': either you are breaking a speed limit or using a hand-held telephone, or you are not; or you jump a red light or ignore a stop sign."
Explaining the potential affects of this policy on drivers' car insurance premiums, Mr Douglas said that insurers recognise the seriousness of careless driving offences and increase premiums accordingly, because data shows that offenders are more likely to be involved in an accident and make a claim on their car insurance policy.
"A careless driving offence with a £1,000 fine and say, six penalty points would be taken much more seriously than, for example, a fixed penalty for a speeding offence. It could double a driver's insurance premium or even make it difficult to find insurance at all," Mr Douglas explains.
"This in itself acts as an important deterrent. But making careless driving a fixed penalty would not only reduce that deterrent effect, but reduce it to a similar status as other fixed penalties, leading to a sharp rise in the number of relatively small premium increases."
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