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A guide to new speeding fines: How could your business be affected?

24th April 2017

A guide to new speeding fines: How could your business be affected?

Motorists in England and Wales that are caught speeding will be subject to significantly increased fines due to changes in the law today. Following a consultation with magistrates and criminal justice professionals last year, it was decided that sentencing guidelines did not take into account the increase in potential harm that can result as speed above the speed limit increases. It was therefore concluded that the penalty was to be increased.

In terms of accidents, the latest statistics from the Department for Transport suggest that in 2014, 5,381 vehicles were involved in accidents whereby excessive speeding was reported as a contributory factor. In 2015, 166,695 people in England and Wales were sentenced for speeding offences with 166,216 being fined.

So what is changing?

District judges and magistrates must use guidelines provided to them by the Sentencing Council when determining the punishment for offenders. In this case, sentencing guidelines state that fines for the most serious breaches will now begin at 150% of the offender’s weekly income, rather than 100% that stood at previously.

The new fines will be determined in categories, depending on the seriousness, with a Band A fine consisting of 50% of a person’s weekly income, Band B being 100% and Band C, 150%.

When determining the correct sentence, the Sentencing Council now have to consider the following guidelines. Firstly, magistrates must identify the seriousness of the offence and the table below outlines which band offenders will fall into, depending on the speed in which they were recorded to be travelling.

Aggravating and mitigating factors are then considered to further adjust sentencing. Aggravating factors include previous convictions, whether they relate to the current offence and the time that has elapsed since the conviction. Other factors such as weather conditions, vehicle type, whether the vehicle was carrying passengers or a heavy load, and location e.g. near schools or in heavily pedestrianised areas, may be considered in order to extend the sentence beyond the guidelines in the table above. In contrast, magistrates may consider the offence less serious if the driver has no previous or recent convictions, displays a good character or if a genuine emergency is established.

How could businesses be affected by the new changes?

Although an increase in fines is more likely to affect the individual more than the business that employs them, the increase in penalty points outlined in new sentencing guidelines could have significant implications for owners of both traditional fleet and grey fleet vehicles. Firstly, it only takes one instance of excessive speeding to receive points. Offenders that continually break the law could easily be disqualified from driving, leaving employees unfit to carry out their jobs and leaving businesses having to undergo a dismissal process. In the case of the HGV industry, in particular, replacing disqualified drivers can involve an extremely lengthy recruitment process due to the UK’s driver shortage but on for fleets in general, having to dismiss drivers could result in costly and unproductive periods of downtime. In addition to replenishing your workforce, the detrimental effect that driving convictions can have on insurance costs can be somewhat substantial.

How can businesses mitigate the risk of their drivers breaking speeding laws?

There are a number of ways businesses can ensure that their drivers stay on the right side of the law and, more importantly, demonstrate a safe and low-risk attitude to at-work driving. Educating drivers on the dangers of speeding is an ideal starting point. Speeding puts the lives of drivers, pedestrians and other road users at risk and by repeatedly highlighting real-word examples of where lives have been affected by speeding motorists, many drivers will begin think twice about the effect that their actions can have. The new fines and sanctions will almost certainly increase the deterrent to exceed the speed limit however transport mangers can also implement technology which ensures their drivers do not break the law.

Speed limiters can be fitted to vehicles, which can have an effect of fuel costs but with the threshold of limiters usually standing at 70mph in order for vehicles to safely travel on roads whereby the national speed limit applies. This means that speeding incidents on roads below threshold can still be broken. On the other hand, while it cannot physically stop drivers from speeding, vehicle tracking can provide details to fleet managers when speeding events have occurred on any type of road. By having access to this data, businesses identify high-risk drivers and can implement the relevant driver training requirements. Employees who then continue to break the law can then be sanctioned within the business. Similarly, drivers who show a continued commitment to driving safely and within the speed limit can be rewarded with cash bonuses.

For more information on how your business can mitigate against the dangers of speeding, contact us using the lead form below.

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