Road safety groups have welcomed the introduction of new fixed penalty fines for careless driving offences and increases in fines for other offences such as speeding and mobile phone use.

From today police can stop drivers and issue a £100 ticket on the spot for risky driving such as tailgating or poor lane discipline. Drivers who commit the most serious ‘careless driving’ offences will still face charges in court and much higher penalties.

Fines for most fixed penalty notices for traffic offences such as speeding, mobile phone use and not wearing a seat belt rise from £60 to £100 today, while the fine for driving uninsured rises from £200 to £300.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of the road safety charity Brake, welcomed the changes, but added: “We hope today’s changes will help to improve driver attitudes and behaviour. But we are concerned penalties still aren’t nearly high enough to deter all bad drivers and reflect the potentially appalling consequences of bad driving.”

Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) chief executive Simon Best said: “If the police target the worst and most persistent offenders this could be good news for road safety. If, however, it just becomes another numbers game with thousands of careless driving tickets issued then the impact will be limited.

“The IAM believes that driver retraining courses have a much bigger potential to actually improve poor driving than simply issuing a standard fine and should always be offered as the first stage of prosecution.”