CHARLES GRAHAM - More fines needed for selfish driving

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THERE is a thin line between bad motoring manners and conduct which puts you in breach of the law.

It’s rare to go out in the car without encountering poor driving of some kind, especially on the motorway where less restrained drivers can give full vent to their usual frustrations.

Quite rightly there have long been sanctions in place to punish speeders and other blatant flouters of the law, but I confess to being surprised to learn this week that until now police have only been able to issue cautions for careless driving, into which falls the act of tail-gating.

Now I know there is some bad behaviour - such as pushing in at the front of queues when lanes ahead are shut off - which while extremely annoying to those good enough to observe road etiquette aren’t actually a threat so only warrant a thorough and public dressing-down from police.

But tail-gating - which to me doesn’t strike me as much careless as wilful and intimidating - is another matter entirely. Not only can it be unsettling to those whose vehicles find themselves in front of these menaces (and may be panicked into bad driving themselves), this practice also heightens the likelihood of a crash if someone in front has to brake suddenly.

So good news that at last sense has prevailed and police are to be given powers to fine tail-gaters.

And while they are about it, they can include another thoughtless act of driving that in turn angers and frightens many.

And that’s the driver who, on a motorway, decides he wants to overtake but has no regard for the motorists around him. He’s in the inside lane, you are in a solid row of slightly faster-moving traffic alongside him in the middle lane but he decides he’s coming out anyway.

On goes his indicator and suddenly those outside him are thrown into a panic. Hasn’t the driver seen us, are we in his blind spot, should we speed up to get past him or slam on the brakes in case he’s about to cause an accident? Has he seen me and is trying to barge me out of the way because I can’t, that’s full of traffic too?

These people’s thinking no doubt range from simple thoughtlessness to outright couldn’t-care-less selfishness. But either way there should be tougher sanctions to teach them that they should consider the potentially serious impact of their lack of road etiquette on fellow drivers.