The police force area with the most careless driving convictions is Essex – as figures reveal that more than 17,000 motorists across England and Wales have been booked for the offence over the last two years.
A Freedom of Information investigation by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found that 3,630 motorists were charged with careless driving in Essex between August 2013 and August 2015.
But only 12 people have been charged with the offence in Durham since new careless driving laws were introduced in August 2013. These gave more power to police to dish out on-the-spot fines for careless driving – including tailgating and lane-hogging.
Penalties vary dramatically based on individual police forces – with Humberside Police the second most eager to issue convictions (1,998) followed by Nottinghamshire (1,139) and Derbyshire (949).
IAM chief executive officer, Sarah Sillars, said: “While these offences fall under the lower end of the scale for motoring transgressions, such driving behaviour could easily have caused a serious accident.
“Tailgating is an aggressive action designed to intimidate another driver, while unpredictable lane-changing is both thoughtless and dangerous.
“We hope these on-the-spot fines and remedial courses have helped concentrate the drivers’ minds and make them think twice about these potentially hazardous manoeuvres in the future.”
In the case of Essex, with the highest number of people convicted, 2,958 of them were sent on a course, 484 went to court and 188 took a conditional offer.
In Humberside, the second highest area, 1,469 attended and completed a retraining course and 364 have faced prosecution in court.
Merseyside Police provided a more detailed breakdown of careless driving offences, including 32 convictions for driving on the wrong side of the road or the wrong way down a road, 13 for bad driving on a roundabout and 12 for tailgating. A further two were convicted following clashes with a cyclist.