CARELESS drivers in Burton and South Derbyshire who hog lanes or tailgate can now be punished with on-the-spot police fines.
Under the new measures, officers can issue £100 fines and three points rather than taking drivers to court.
Ministers said it would make tackling problem motorists easier.
The AA said a third of drivers risked facing a fine.
Fixed penalties for a number of offences, including using a phone or not wearing a seatbelt while driving, have also risen from £60 to £100.
Driving without insurance will also increase from £200 to £300.
More serious driving offences will still go through the courts and could result in much higher fines and penalties.
But people caught carrying out offences subject to the new penalties, which were first announced in June, will be able to choose between an on-the-spot fine or the chance to go on a driving course.
Burton’s top cop Chief Inspector Steve Maskrey welcomed the changes that have been put in place.
He told the Mail: “Road safety is a big priority for police in East Staffordshire and this is why we are pleased to see these new changes put into place.
“It will mean we can do more than ever to try and make driving on the road as safe as possible all while clamping down on those people who decided to not follow the law.”
Chief Insp Maskrey said that these changes are timely in Burton as they arrive just days after major plans to improve an accident-plagued section of the A38 were rubber stamped by highways chiefs.
He added: “With these new powers and the changes to the A38, we will able to do more than ever to make the area safer.
“However, this is not the only route we can take as we can also offer drivers the chance to go on schemes such as speed awareness course if they are caught out.
“This can be great for some people as it will allow them to be educated on road safety for the first time since they passed their test at 17.
“I have spoke to people who have used this system and says it works really well but it is a case by case basis.
“People should understand though that it is not worth taking risks on the roads because you can end up having to be dealt with by the police but more importantly their actions could have devastating consequences.”
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) agreed with Chief Insp Maskrey’s and said driver retraining courses would be more effective at improving driving than just issuing thousands of fines.
The move brings careless or inconsiderate driving offences into line with the penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties.
Drivers can still appeal against any decision through the courts.
Among the offences police are expected to focus on are:
• Driving too close to the vehicle in front;
• Failing to give way at a junction (not requiring evasive action by another driver);
• Overtaking and pushing into a queue of traffic;
• Being in the wrong lane and pushing into a queue on a roundabout;
• Lane discipline, such as needlessly hogging the middle or outside lanes;
• Inappropriate speed;
• and wheel-spins, handbrake turns and other careless manoeuvres.
Many such offences currently go unpunished because of the bureaucracy involved in taking a case to court.
Not only does a motorist have to be stopped by the police, but a summons has to be issued and evidence presented in court.
The AA said responsible drivers would welcome the changes but added that a survey of 20,000 motorists suggested one in three could be caught out hogging the middle lane.
“We are pleased to see that at long last new powers and fines will be given to the police to tackle the top three pet hates of drivers - tailgaters, mobile phone abusers and middle-lane hogs,” said AA president Edmund King.
The need for the changes can be summed up by an incident that rocked the area seven years ago.
Rebecca Casterton, 13, of Holly Road, Barton under Needwood, and Rebecca’s 12-year-old best friend, Lauren Brooks, of Forest Road, Burton, lose their lives in a crash on January 20, 2006, on the southbound carriageway of the A38 near Clay Mills.
The pair were killed in an accident caused by a driver using his phone pleading with motorists not to use handsets.
They were killed by Telford-based trucker Robert Murray, who had been distracted by his mobile phone.
He was handed a four-and-a-half year jail sentence for causing death by dangerous driving.
Rebecca’s mother, Ruth Anslow, previously told the Mail: “It makes me so frustrated and angry that even after all this time and after what happened, every single day I see people driving along talking on their mobiles.
“I urge them to use common sense and either wait until they can pull over or just ignore the call.”
With these new laws and major changes on the A38 soon coming into place, all is set for the area’s roads to be safer than ever however the onus now falls on each and every driver to do their part.