Northern Ireland’s police have announced a major crackdown on all motoring offences, effectively removing officers’ right to exercise discretion. Offences such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt, and using a mobile phone will carry an automatic ticket, rather than the officer responsible for noticing the crime being given the power to decide whether a ticket or warning should be issued.
The call for more stringent exercising of the law has come following a marked increase in the number of road deaths that have occurred during the first half of the year, and following on from similar increases that were witnessed last year. 54 deaths were reported before the end of June, and the police hope that by tightening up the penalties and ensuring that they are imposed against all offenders will effectively make the roads safer and reduce the number of accidents and injuries that do occur.
Speeding is the most common of all road offences, and it is a common cause of accidents. As speeds increase, reaction distances decrease, and this means that drivers have less time to be able to apply brakes or avoid collisions. The greater the speed of vehicles, the more likely they are to be involved an accident, and the more serious the injuries that any accident is likely to cause.
Not wearing a seatbelt is also a common offence, and one that can lead to the death or injury of the person without their seat belt. As TV campaigns have regularly shown, the act of not wearing a seat belt also increases the possibility of causing serious injury to others in the car, and to other drivers and even pedestrians that might be involved in the accident.
Using a mobile phone while driving is an obvious distraction, and if a person’s attention is taken by a phone call, answering a text, or updating their social network profile, then they are not paying proper attention to the roads. Although there are plans to increase the penalty for this offence, three points and a £100 fine are currently imposed, and any drivers found guilty will be instantly given a Fixed Penalty Notice.