Careless driving could soon be dealt with by police through a Fixed Penalty Notice depending on the outcome of a public consultation announced by the Infrastructure Minister.
Nichola Mallon MLA is proposing to make offences such as driving too close to another vehicle, hogging the overtaking lane, and turning into the path of an oncoming vehicle so they have to “take evasive action” punishable with an on-the-spot fine and penalty points.
The consultation proposes that the fixed penalty in Northern Ireland for those deemed to have been involved in careless driving offences should be £100 on top of 3 penalty points, with more serious offences dealt with by the Courts.
The consultation paper, which is to remain open until January 18 next year, will also invite views on the introduction of ‘Operation SNAP’ – a programme that enables members of the public to share dash cam footage showing careless driving or riding.
Operation Snap is currently operated by a number of police forces across England and Wales, with offences dealt with either through a driver improvement course or a fixed penalty.
“As Minister for Infrastructure part of my responsibility is promoting and improving road safety. This is a responsibility I take very seriously.,” said the Minister.
“I have made it clear that I take a zero tolerance approach to irresponsible behaviour on the roads and I am committed to working with partners to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries across our roads network.
“Earlier this year I introduced legislation to tackle the damage caused by drink drivers and also those who continue to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving; I am keen to bring forward further legislation that will deter poor driving behaviours and help to support our colleagues in the criminal justice sector.
“I was shocked to learn that about 42% of all cases coming to our courts in Northern Ireland were for motoring offences including careless driving. I am committed to working with the Justice Minister and the PSNI to tackle this problem.”
On the issue of dash cam footage, the Minister added: “The consultation paper will also consider the potential for the introduction of Operation SNAP in Northern Ireland.
“The submission of dash cam footage, obtained safely and appropriately, will provide an additional means for road traffic law enforcement here. However, legislative change will be required to make careless driving a fixed penalty offence. “
The timeframe for introducing Operation Snap will be police-led, however the Minister has promised to “ensure the legislative process moves forward as quickly as is possible”.