Police will be able to hand out on-the-spot fines for careless driving under a new strategy being launched to to make Britain’s roads safer.
Motorists who tailgate, undertake or cut up other drivers could be handed an immediate fine - reportedly up to £100 - rather than being taken to court.
There will be a new crackdown on drug-driving and loopholes which allow people to get off drink-driving charges will be closed, said the Department for Transport.
Disqualified drivers will be forced to retrain - and possibly have to take another test - before they regain their licence. And the courts will be encouraged to make more use of their powers to seize vehicles for the most serious offences.
But in a written statement to MPs, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond will also announce a new approach to drivers who make genuine mistakes on the roads and extra help for those who have just passed their tests and need to keep improving their skills.
A wider range of retraining and education courses will be on offer for low-level offences. And novice drivers will be able to take additional qualifications to reassure insurers that they are safe behind the wheel, in a bid to reverse the steep upward trend in premiums for less experienced motorists.
A source close to Mr Hammond said the new strategy represented a “sea change” from Labour’s approach, which relied heavily on speed cameras and failed to differentiate between problem drivers and essentially safe motorists who make an honest mistake.
The new approach will target genuinely reckless drivers, rather than wasting police and court time by putting generally law-abiding motorists in the dock.
Convictions for offences related to bad driving fell from 125,000 in 1985 to 28,900 in 2006, suggesting that many cases are going unpunished, said the DfT.
A DfT spokesman said: “The strategy will focus on cracking down on the really reckless drivers through more efficient enforcement. By giving the police the tools to deal with those who present the greatest danger to others we can make our roads even safer.”