"It was only a couple of years ago, in SF188, in which we brought to your attention some new road policing proposals being considered by the then Labour government. These proposals suggested that police officers should have the ability to issue on-the-spot fines for Careless Driving, effectively rendering obsolete the process of court hearings and allowing police officers to act as judge, jury and executioner at the roadside.
Well, since that Fighting Talk, things have been a bit quiet on this front, probably due to Labour’s spectacular defeat at the hands of the Tory Bullingdon club and their fawning yellow sandal-wearing manservants, but these proposals are now hot news once again. Unveiled to coincide with the commencing of the United Nation’s Decade For Road Safety, which starts now(ish), the revised proposals suggest that Careless Driving roadside penalties could be handed out for a variety of minor traffic offences, including tailgating, undertaking, weaving and ‘driving aggressively’. Much has been made of the effort to target “boy racers” which, of course, appears to apply to anybody who enjoys using a high performance or modified vehicle (and not, of course, to our own Environment Secretary who would never speed and then ask someone else to take the points for him… nope, never… ). But here’s where it gets foggy.
As I said the last time we talked about this, on-the-spot fines remove the necessity for a driver suspected of an offence to go to court. The matter is dealt with at the roadside. Which means that the policeman will be able to have you prosecuted, fined and have your licence endorsed in less time than it takes you to smoke a cigarette. On something as cut-and-dry as speeding, this works – either you were speeding, or you weren’t. But careless driving is highly subjective – one man’s recklessness is another man’s ‘good progress’. Whether you are reckless or not depends literally on the policeman who observes your behaviour; his mood, his policing targets, his opinion of you and whether he’s a malicious git or a genuinely nice guy..."
Read the rest of this Fighting Talk in the current issue of Streetfighters, and make your comments here.