UK motorists ‘guilty of double standards’

12.00 | 27 May 2016 | | 5 comments

GEM Motoring Assist has labelled the UK as a nation ‘guilty of double standards’ when it comes to the driving offences we commit and the penalties we expect. 

The claim comes on the back of a new survey of more than 3,000 of the road safety charity’s members which showed that 11.4% are prepared to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

The survey, which appears in the summer 2016 edition of Good Motoring, also shows that 63% admit to snacking behind the wheel.

GEM says that not only do thousands own up to breaking the law, they also admit to becoming dangerously distracted while driving.

The survey reveals that 41.8% tolerate more distractions at the wheel than they did 10 years ago while 16% of respondents accepted a level of driver distraction because it has so far not been a problem for them. 

However, the results also show a public determination to clamp down on law-breaking drivers with a ‘staggering’ 75.8% of motorists wanting to see more traffic police working to stop offenders.

66.4% of respondents want courts to show a tougher, more consistent line in their sentencing of ‘totters’ – drivers who accumulate 12 or more penalty points.

In the week in which it was revealed that the number of full-time roads policing officers in England and Wales has fallen by almost a third, GEM has stated its belief that a greater road policing presence provides an effective deterrent for drivers who would otherwise be prepared to take risks.

David Williams MBE, GEM chief executive, said: “The survey reveals the double standards at the heart of motoring in this country, and the enormous challenge the authorities face to promote behaviour change.

“On one hand, we are demanding tougher action against law-breaking motorists, but on the other hand millions of us are quite happy to admit to bad driving. 

“In recent decades we have made considerable progress in persuading people not to drink and drive. Achieving a nationwide commitment to reducing driver distractions is a huge challenge, especially when you consider that 16% of our respondents accept a level of driver distraction because it has so far not been a problem for them.

“As one of our respondents commented, manufacturers increasingly afford drivers the opportunity to communicate from their vehicles. The temptation to take advantage of this is too high for most normal people and punishing them is not going to provide the solution.”



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    Judging from the photo, is the guilty motorist also driving a left hand drive vehicle? Obviously no UK photos of this common problem.

    Guzzi, Newport
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    Is the survey summary too broad and shallow? Personally I see an extremely large difference between the real distraction caused by using a mobile phone (whether hand held or hands free) and “more than six in 10 admitting to snacking while driving”. Personally, I have no time at all for police who would target snacking at the wheel for enforcement, unless it was extreme – like eating a cooked dinner off a plate!

    Pat, Wales
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    Car manufacturers make it much more easy for drivers to get distracted in modern cars. I have just disposed of my W reg car and replaced it with a similar vehicle only a year or so old. The new car has major distractions in the form of a large screen and a big knob next to the gear stick which can be twiddled and twisted to produce all sorts of information on this screen. I am not familiar with it and I do not attempt to twiddle my knob whilst driving, although I imagine many drivers do, and are therefore distracted by what appears on the screen. I believe that, apart from Sat Nav maps, no information should be shown on the screen unless the car is parked.

    Robert Bolt Saint Albans
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    You couldn’t hope to find a better examples of the kind of results you get from the fundamental attribution error and the typical responses to those errors.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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    My own experiences bear this out and unfortunately I think it is generally true, but it’s refreshing for an organisation to have picked up on it and actually highlight it.

    Hugh Jones
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