Motor vehicle offences in Scotland fell by a third in the year to March 2015, but still account for more than half (52%) of all offences, new statistics from the Scottish Government reveal.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has expressed concern that the number of convictions has fallen significantly at a time when road deaths in Scotland increased slightly.
Total motor vehicle offences stood at 195,985 for 2014-15 – down from 294,091 in the previous 12 months.
The figures include a 50% reduction in mobile phone offences, from 35,764 in 2013-14 to 17,978 in 2014-15. This figure has dropped for the first time since 2008/09 and mobile phones now account for 9% of all motoring offences.
Similarly, seatbelt offences also fell by more than half (59%) from 37,880 to 15,619.
Speeding is still the most common offence (31%) but the number of convictions also fell sharply in the same period – down 26% from 82,382 to 60,926.
Convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs fell by 14% to 5,218, while dangerous and careless driving offences were down 7% to 10,773. Unlawful use of vehicles fell by 29% to 40,855.
Neil Greig, IAM’s policy and research director, told The Scotsman: “On the face of it, this looks like a good news story for road safety, with a big fall-off in the number of those caught doing things behind the wheel that are widely accepted as being dangerous.
“Given the high profile for road safety we were promised by chief constable Sir Stephen House, I would have expected a rise in convictions rather than a big fall.”
Despite the fall in the number of offences, in the same period the number of road deaths increased by two to 192, while serious injuries fell by 83 to 1,627.
Neil Greig added: “The most worrying aspect is deaths have increased despite fewer convictions. It is vital for the future of enforcement policy that this link is fully investigated. We need to know if the police are targeting the right offences, in the right place, at the right time and in sufficient numbers.”