Act gives more power to prosecute motorists

THE LAW is catching up with bad drivers, the Secretary of State for Transport, John MacGregor, said yesterday.

The new Road Traffic Act comes into force today. The Act makes it easier to prosecute and convict bad drivers, introduces a new offence of dangerous driving and gives greater powers over drink-drive offenders.

Mr MacGregor said yesterday: 'The new measures are timely and essential if we are to achieve our objective of reducing road casualties by a third by the end of the century, compared with their level in the early 1980s.'

He said the introduction of the new dangerous driving offence meant the emphasis would be on the standard of driving rather than the driver's state of mind when committing the offence.

The Act also embraces new sentencing. For example, causing death by dangerous driving will carry a maximum prison sentence of five years - up to now the maximum sentence in such a case would have been six months. It will also lead to disqualification for at least two years.

Other measures include an extended re-test - twice as long as the standard test - which will be compulsory for dangerous driving offenders.

And a new offence of causing danger to road users by deliberate acts of vandalism, such as throwing objects on to roads, also comes into force, carrying a maximum prison sentence of seven years.