With up to 12 million UK motorists receiving a fixed penalty notice every year, a new study carried out by independent registration company Regtransfers shows which areas of the UK fixed penalty notices are being issued the most and why.
The eye-opening results, taken from official government data sources, cover offences from speeding to failing to stop at a red light and shows just where we can find our nation’s worst drivers.
The study covers 2.7 million police-issued penalties in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland throughout the tax year of 2016-2017, with the data showing the number of driving offences per 10,000 drivers registered within each police force division. The combined data from City of London Police and Metropolitan Police forces show results for London as a whole. Despite Scotland using several, local police forces recorded data present as one police area.
The figures, compiled by Regtransfers, highlight the locations with the highest number of offenders caught and punished for seven of the major driving offences.
These offences are:
- Careless driving
- Insurance and licence offences
- Not wearing a seatbelt
- Parking offences
- Running lights and ignoring road signs
- Using mobile phones at the wheel
Avon and Somerset take the lead for the worst driving, with 197,692 fixed penalty notices issued overall. That’s 1,785 driving offences for every 10,000 drivers over the twelve-month period.
The ten worst areas for all driving offences per 10,000 drivers are:
- Avon and Somerset: 1,785
- Cumbria: 1,455
- Warwickshire: 1,410
- Norfolk: 1,388
- Bedfordshire: 1,385
- Northamptonshire: 1,231
- Humberside: 1,148
- Lincolnshire: 1,124
- West Yorkshire: 1,120
- Merseyside: 1,107
Whether this means that the police in these areas are particularly vigilant or the people driving in these areas are more willing to take risks while driving is unknown, but the stats do prove a point that in certain areas of the country there are more fines than others, even if the population size is similar.
Drivers fined every two-and-a-half seconds
In 2017 the RAC Foundation found that drivers receive a fixed penalty notice every two-and-a-half seconds, meaning around 13,000 motorists get fined each day. In a year it is estimated that one-third of the 40 million drivers on our roads will receive a fixed penalty notice for something.
The introduction of fixed penalty notices (FPN) for careless driving offences came into force in August 2013. The concept of having a fixed penalty notice is not a new one as FPNs have been used for minor parking offences since 1950 in Great Britain. In more recent years FPNs have been used for other driving offences such as careless driving, ignoring road markings and others as dictated by the Road Traffic Act.
Careless driving offences include driving under the influence of drink or drugs, middle lane hogging, overtaking dangerously, and tailgating. Scotland came out worst in this category with 11,890 fixed penalty notices issued for careless driving last year, equalling to 36 fixed penalty notices per 10,000 drivers.
With 45,940 fixed penalty notices issued for offences such as driving with a provisional licence without a supervisor and L-plates, driving while underage, driving without at least third party insurance, or driving without a licence at all, Scotland also scored highest for fixed penalty notices here with 139 FPNs per 10,000 drivers.
Drivers in Essex held the place for highest number of seatbelt offences, resulting in 47 fixed penalty notices per 10,000 drivers (or 5,819 issued for the year). Offences cover not only failing to wear a seatbelt while driving but for failing to have the correct child restraints for children under the age of 14.
Gwent motorists are more likely to receive a fixed penalty notice for parking offences, including parking in a prohibited spot, parking in a resident bay without a permit, parking in a pay-and-display area without a valid ticket, and parking on double yellow lines. Drivers in Gwent received 6,500 penalty notices between 2016 – 2017 or 178 fixed penalty notices for every 10,000 drivers.
As this data is only for fixed penalty notices issued by the police, expect figures to be much higher when including parking penalty notices issued by local councils and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
Fines not deterring people
The greatest number of fixed penalty notices issued for running red lights and ignoring road signs or markings occurred in Leicester with 8,675 fixed penalty notices issued. This works out at 131 for every 10,000 drivers. Offences included in this category are failing to follow traffic signs, or with the direction of a traffic warden, and driving anywhere else but on the road.
With the most common driving offence throughout the entire UK being speeding, the worst offenders are Avon and Somerset motorists, clocking up 184,65 speeding tickets in last year. Whether from exceeding the statutory speed limit on public roads or motorways, these motorists are being caught and punished for 1,657 offences per 10,000 drivers.
The smallest penalty for speeding you can expect is a £100 fine and three penalty points added to your licence. You could receive a driving ban if you receive 12 or more penalty points within a three-year period. With 62% of motorists admitting to speeding in 2017, it seems that the heavy fines in place are still not deterring people.
Drivers most guilty of using their handheld devices while in charge of a vehicle are those in London, with 25,872 penalty notices given to drivers over the twelve months period. Averaging at 52 offences per 10,000 drivers, the offences cover making or receiving a call while behind the wheel (using hands-free devices is still legal) or for any use of a mobile phone while the engine is running, even when stationary.
Severe penalties and tough fines
The punishment for receiving a fixed penalty notice depends on the seriousness of the offence. If you’re issued one, you may receive a fine or a fine and points on your licence. Fines paid within 28 days won’t result in any further action and in some FPN cases, you can receive a discount by paying within 14 days of receiving the notice.
If you dispute the offence, you must go to court where if found guilty, you’ll receive a heavier fine than if you had taken the original fixed penalty notice.
While many motorists will argue that even the most careful drivers get caught out in a driving offence in their lifetime, drivers can avoid the more obvious offences such as using a mobile phone while driving.
In March 2017 the law changed, doubling the penalty for motorists caught using a mobile phone while driving, with drivers now expect to receive six points on their licence and a £200 fine. The reduced number of fixed penalty notices issued for mobile phone use being due to the new legislation is up for debate.
How does your area’s driving behaviour compare? Have you ever received a fixed penalty notice and if so, did you think it was fair? What changes would you make to the current laws? Let us know in the comments below.