Tougher penalties for speeding drivers

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LONDON, Sep 24 (Reuters) Drivers who fail to disclose who was behind the wheel when caught speeding will now face stiffer penalties.

Motorists convicted of failing to give information about the identity of a speeding driver will receive six penalty points instead of the previous three after changes brought in by the Driving Standards Agency today.

The government is concerned that drivers are using the loophole of claiming they do not know who was driving a vehicle when clocked speeding to avoid fines and points on their licence.

Former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine avoided a speeding fine four years ago after they said neither of them could remember who was behind the wheel when they were flashed by a speed camera.

Most speeding offences are detected by speed cameras, which cannot always identify the driver.

But critics say the change will unfairly penalise those who genuinely do not know who was driving a car when a speeding offence was committed and further devalue the points system.

Paul Smith, founder of anti-speed camera campaign group SafeSpeed.org.uk, said: ''This change has absolutely nothing to do with road safety - it's just spiteful.

''The authorities have forgotten that driving licence points were supposed to help identify risky drivers.

''Giving extra points to people who simply fumble the paperwork will further devalue the licence points system.'' Motorists whose cars are stolen will escape the penalty as long as they can prove that the vehicle had been taken without their permission.

REUTERS AK PM0450

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