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Bad drivers to face £100 fines

Bad drivers will be hit with fixed-penalty fines of up to £100 under a Government scheme which aims to cut road deaths by as much as 57% within 20 years.

Motorists who tailgate, undertake or cut up other drivers could be handed the fine rather than being taken to court.

Current fixed fines of £60 for offences such as driving while using a mobile phone and not wearing a seatbelt could go up to between £80 and £100.

Disqualified drivers will be forced to retrain - and possibly have to take another test - before they regain their licence.

And courts will be encouraged to make more use of their powers to seize vehicles for the most serious offences.

A wider range of retraining and education courses will be on offer for lower-level offences.

And novice drivers will be able to take additional qualifications to reassure insurers that they are safe behind the wheel, in a bid to reverse the steep upward trend in premiums for less experienced motorists.

Launching the strategy, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said he wanted to move road safety enforcement away from the "narrow focus on camera-enforced speed policing to address the wider range of behaviours that create risk on the roads".

Motoring groups generally welcomed the proposals but shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said Government policies were risking "more deaths and injuries on Britain's roads".

Comparing future casualty figures to the average figure for 2005 to 2009, the Government said its proposals could mean the annual death toll coming down, by 2020, by between 37% and 46%.

If the 46% figure is achieved, the annual death toll in 2020 would fall to 1,530.

While stating that its figures were "neither a target nor a definitive forecast", the Government said the death toll could fall by 2030 by as much as 57%, giving an annual figure as low as 1,220.

Mr Hammond said: "Where road users commit serious, deliberate and repeated offences we aim to increase the effectiveness of enforcement for this minority - for example, through improving the efficiency of action on drink and drug driving.

"Through this approach we aim to improve the targeting and effectiveness of enforcement to tackle a wide range of unsafe behaviours that cover all careless and dangerous driving offences.

"Our long-term vision is to ensure that Britain remains a world leader on road safety and to continue the downward trend in casualties. We believe that the measures set out in this strategic framework will help us to achieve this vision."

Ms Eagle said: "The Tory-led Government's reckless decision to axe road safety funding, cut the frontline police officers needed to enforce traffic offences, and axe targets risks more deaths and injuries on Britain's roads."

The Department for Transport stressed that the proposals would not mean on-the-spot fines, something which was welcomed by AA president Edmund King, who said fixed-penalty offences should be "confined to bad driving seen by a police officer, where the driver is stopped at the time".

The RAC Foundation questioned whether the strategy tackled the key areas which caused injury and death on the roads, while the Campaign to Protect Rural England said the Government's emphasis was too urban.

The road safety strategy was published as Prime Minister David Cameron joined motor racing stars Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in London to help launch a worldwide UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.

Mr Cameron said: "Every six seconds, someone is killed or seriously injured on the world's roads. Addressing this must be an urgent priority for the international community.