Dangerous drivers should face tougher penalties, according to their fellow road users. At least that's the verdict from a new survey by the safety charity Brake and insurance firm Direct Line.

They found eight out of 10 motorists want a fine of £200 dished out to selfish road users who routinely text, speed or drive carelessly.

It's more than double the recently-proposed increase to £90, while half of those surveyed thought dangerous drivers should be slapped with a fine of £500 or more!

Now Brake is asking the government to take note of this army of disgruntled drivers and raise fines to prevent accidents.

"The government must listen to the public, who recognise that far tougher penalties are needed to stop risky, selfish behaviour at the wheel and that we need to take dangerous repeat offenders off the roads," said Ellen Booth, Brake senior campaigns officer.

Raising fines is not enough, though, according to the chief executive of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM). They think sentences should reflect the crimes.

"Magistrates are handing out fines for drink driving that are less than five per cent of the maximum amount possible, giving the message that drink driving only warrants a slap on the wrist," said the IAM's Simon Best. "Only sentences that reflect the seriousness of the crime will act as a proper deterrent."

However, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) believes a higher police presence on UK roads is the answer.

"Ultimately, the deterrent effect of the penalty system depends more on whether offending motorists believe they will get caught. If they do not think they will get caught, then the level of penalty is unlikely to deter them on its own," a RoSPA spokesperson told Autoblog.

"Therefore, maintaining a strong and visible police presence on the roads is more important than the level of fines."

And to add another twist, the survey has been pooh-poohed by the AA. "We surveyed this in June, and found that 49 per cent believe a change in fine unnecessary, and 12 per cent think the increase to £90 proposed by government justified but too large," the AA's Andrew Howard said.

"Only 28 per cent think the rise is needed with another six per cent feeling that the proposed rise is not enough."

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