People shining laser pens at pilots, train and bus drivers could be jailed or face hefty fines under a tougher new law.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said “this kind of dangerous behaviour risks lives and must be stopped” as new powers were announced to protect the public.
It is currently an offence to shine lasers at pilots which can be punished with a fines of up to £2,500 but police do not have the powers to tackle laser attacks against aircraft, trains, buses and other types of transport.
Under the new bolstered plans, police will only have to prove the offence of shining the laser instead of having to prove that an aircraft had been endangered.
There have been approximately 1,500 laser strikes each year since 2011, up from 200 which were reported in 2008.
Mr Grayling said: “Shining a laser pointer at pilots or drivers is incredibly dangerous and could have fatal consequences.
“Whilst we know laser pens can be fun and many users have good intentions, some are not aware of the risks of dazzling drivers or pilots putting public safety at risk. That’s why we want to take the common sense approach to strengthen our laws to protect the public from those who are unaware of the dangers or even worse, intentionally want to cause harm. This kind of dangerous behaviour risks lives and must be stopped. “There are around 1,500 laser attacks on aircraft every year in the UK and we know there have been similar attacks on trains and buses. What I am announcing today are plans to give the police effective powers to investigate and bring those who misuse lasers to justice.”
Details of the new powers and punishments are to be set out in upcoming legislation, according to the Transport department.
British Airline Pilots Association flight safety specialist Steve Landells said: “Any move to give the police and authorities more powers to tackle this real and growing threat to flight safety is a good thing, and we are pleased that the Government has included action on lasers in this bill.”