LESS than one tailgater a month has been penalised for careless driving on the county’s motorways since the police were handed new powers in August, new figures reveal.

Just nine motorists in Lancashire were issued with traffic offence reports for driving too close to the vehicle in front, a BBC Freedom of Information Act shows.

And just 45 were given tickets for needlessly hogging the middle, or outside lane on the motorway.

The majority of drivers penalised avoided penalty points by choosing to attend a driving awareness course instead, which is generally available to first offenders.

While 35 motorists attended a course, just one was given a fixed penalty of £100 and three points on their licence. Four were summonsed to court, and 19 are still waiting to hear their punishment.

A total of 6,359 motorists nationally have been fined for careless, or incon- siderate driving, since August when police were given power to hand out on-the-spot fines.

Blackburn MP Jack Straw criticised the tailgaters, but said the police had to be proportionate.

He said: “My perception is that driving standards have got better, and I have noticed less tailgating than I used to suffer.

“I’m not surprised by these figures and, on the whole, the road safety record in Lancashire is not bad. The police are dealing with, usually, people who tend to lead lawful lives. They have to be careful because they are not pulling over criminals.

“But tailgaters are a real menace.”

When the scheme was originally announced, Lancashire road police sergeant John Jennings-Wharton said he felt new enforcements could make Lancashire’s roads safer.

“These are driving mistakes which can cause collisions and could result in a death,” he said.