Those who use laser devices to target train drivers could be jailed for up to five years under new legislation unveiled by the Department for Transport.
The Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill, published today, expands the list of vehicle operators – beyond just planes – of which it is an offence to target with lasers.
Laser pens have become a growing concern with their beams capable of impacting a driver’s ability to control their vehicles.
The bill removes the current fine limit of £2,500 and also makes it easier to prosecute offenders by removing the need to prove an intention to endanger a vehicle.
Commander Simon Bray is the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for lasers. He said: “Recklessly shining a laser at an aircraft or another moving vehicle is deeply irresponsible and dangerous.
“By causing a distraction or, in some cases, short or long-term eye damage, laser attacks can lead to catastrophic incidents.
“These new and robust measures send a clear message to perpetrators: laser attacks are a crime and serious consequences will follow from committing this offence.”
Last year, the Civil Aviation Authority received reports of 1,258 laser incidents, with Heathrow the most frequent location for reports of the devices being used recklessly.
Earlier this year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy ran a call for evidence on the selling of laser pointers and is considering the findings before formally responding in 2018.
The Department for Transport has released a brief video explaining the new legislation: