Drivers think they can get away with offences: AA

14.29 | 22 January 2018 | | 13 comments

The results of a new AA study suggest that more than half of UK drivers (54%) feel they can get away with using a hand-held mobile phone while driving – due to a lack of police presence.

The study of more than 19,500 drivers also found that 36% believe they were ‘not likely to be caught or punished’ for drink driving or speeding – while 43% suggested they could get away with drug driving.

The highest percentage of respondents – 65% – felt they can get away with ‘careless driving’, including tailgating and lane hogging.

Other results include: driving a vehicle in a dangerous or defective condition (55%),
not wearing a seatbelt (49%), not stopping at a red traffic light (44%), driving without insurance (42%) and driving in a bus lane (33%).

Drivers were also asked about their perception of police visibility on roads in their area. 65% felt there was no visible presence on local roads, compared to 43% on motorways.

When asked about alternative ways to enforce the rules of the road, 71% said that cameras alone cannot police the roads.

There was some support for allowing other parties to assist the police in traffic enforcement, with 45% of respondents saying Highways England traffic officers could be given more powers.

A FoI request carried out by the Press Association last year found the number of traffic officers had fallen by a third in 10 years – from 3,766 in 2007 to 2,643 in 2017.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “It is worrying that drivers feel that a lack of police officers on the roads, means they think they can get away with careless driving and other serious motoring offences.

“The AA and the Government are keen to stamp out using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving, but more than half feel it can be done with little chance of punishment.

“Limited support for allowing third parties to carry out roads enforcement shows that drivers want more police on the streets to catch and prosecute drivers breaking the law.

“What is clear is that camera enforcement is seen as an actual deterrent, but Big Brother can only do so much; we need more cops in cars.

“With a significant drop in specialist traffic officers, it may prove to be difficult to ensure safety to everyone on our roads.”


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    Derek, maybe you have not noticed but around that roundabout is a pedestrian pavement and the kerbs of the road crossing places are chamfered for the use of disabled persons, prams etc.. So they are catered for by the council and highways authority and therefore such usage has to be anticipated by all approaching drivers. There are thousands of such cases all over the UK, some crossings are painted black and white with all the regalia and some are like this one being less formal but all the same exist.

    So it’s something every motorist should anticipate at many junctions even roundabouts and it’s also something a pedestrian should use carefully with due regards to their own safety and that of others.

    bob craven
    Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

    “Cops in cars can only do so much; we need more automated enforcement”
    Rod King
    20’s Plenty

    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (9) | Disagree (6)

    David, the driver in the right hand lane was correct in using that lane as he was going straight on along the same main road and the entry to that main road off the roundabout was a dual one. It’s just that he wasn’t thinking right, that there may have been some sort of obstruction that may have caused the inside lane vehicles to collect.

    The lady driver of the invalid carriage is at greater fault as she should have exercised greater caution whilst passing the van that had stopped for her. She should have used greater caution and slowed and perhaps even stopped but she just came straight out with little or no regard to her own safety or the the safety of any vehicle using the outside lane.

    It takes two to tango and all road using pedestrians are advised in the first chapters of the Highway Code on how to behave and of their responsibilities. She should have read it.

    bob craven
    Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

    David, we are in 2018 not 1960 and the driver-less car is on the horizon. It doesn’t need a formal pedestrian crossing at all these crossing points but with all the technology that is now readily available, it not be beyond the wit of man to come up with a system that can detect the presence of a pedestrian crossing the road and alert all drivers approaching. Unfortunately instead of recognising dangers and developing solutions our road engineering is stuck in the past and we have a blame culture when accidents occur. If the driver approaching killed the woman on the crossing he would have been prosecuted even though he had no opportunity to see her.

    Derek Hertfordshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (7)

    @Derek, how on earth can this near miss be considered a failing in road engineering? Are you wanting there to be formal crossings at every point that someone wishes to get from one side of the road to the other?

    It is a failing of the driver who thinks he can quickly get onto the roundabout and not get caught up in all the traffic in the left lane. In the original video on Youtube, he claims that it was the fault of the van driver for stopping and waving the scooter user out into a lane he was using without checking. Given that he didn’t see the scooter until the last minute, how did he see what the van driver did? The driver failed to think that the van might be obscuring a mobility scooter, pedestrian, cyclist, etc. Purely and simply, poor anticipation skills and not engineering at fault here.

    David, Suffolk
    Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

    Dash cam footage shouldn’t just be used for prosecution, it can be used as a road safety learning exercise as it can reveal serious design failings in how our roads are engineered as in this example

    Derek Hertfordshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (12)

    The police would never be able to cope with the potential number of dash cam clips that could be sent to them. The police use of public’s dash cam evidence requires the same level of evidence and presumably the opportunity for the offender to go to Court and face their accuser (the owner of the dash cam). Would end up swamping the courts.

    Keith, Bristol
    Agree (9) | Disagree (5)

    Andrew: As recently publicised in this news feed, Police forces have started asking the public to send them footage of driving offences caught on their dash-cams for prosecution. Considering there will soon be more vehicles with dash-cams than police vehicles on the road, that can only be a good thing.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (6) | Disagree (7)

    Whether people like it or not the sad fact is that probably 99.9% of mobile phone offenders are getting away with it and will continue to do so. With some 6,000 caught in a 4 week period in March 2017 throughout the UK. This is likely to be equivalent to the same number that use mobile phones while driving every minute of the working day throughout the UK. Are more police really going to be the answer to this problem? The Government makes a fortune out of mobile phone licences.

    Keith, Bristol
    Agree (8) | Disagree (3)

    Edmund King (AA) is so wrong in saying ‘Big brother can only do so much…’ If cameras could be used to prosecute drivers we’d have a sea change in behaviour. Just look what’s on Youtube! Why not hand over control of speed camera to local authorities and allow them to prosecute? Cue the ‘making money out of drivers’ rubbish. The authorities are too scared to execute proper enforcement, hence poor driver behaviour.

    andrew clarke, London
    Agree (7) | Disagree (8)

    The vast majority of road crimes can be adequately enforced via covert, ubiquitous smart technology. The average smart phone has more processing power than a speed camera and could be packaged with speed detection very cheaply.

    But its a “political will” problem. By not developing and using such technology than we condone road crime. And whilst most of the time this does not directly lead to collisions, combinations of events will leave people dead or injured when there is not the time or space to take avoiding action.

    Just yesterday we had the AA complaining about fines for drivers caught using bus lanes in Scotland and referring to them as “traps”. Whilst motoring organisations may call for better compliance with road laws it seems that whenever smarter devices are used to complement police numbers and fine non-compliers they complain.

    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (15) | Disagree (10)

    Yet another study telling us what we already know. Drivers are widely dis-respecting and ignoring motoring laws “because they can”.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (17) | Disagree (3)

    No doubt the criminal fraternity think the same, otherwise they wouldn’t commit crimes! It’s an entrenched attitude for some elements in society, not necessarily limited to motorists. Even if there were no police around – ever – some thankfully will still obey the rules.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (8) | Disagree (2)

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