Speeding and distracted drivers are considered the ‘biggest threats on our roads’, according to a survey by Brake to mark the start of Road Safety Week 2016 (21-27 Nov).
Brake asked 1,000 drivers to identify which driving behaviour, from a list of six, they thought posed the biggest danger. The six options were speeding, distraction, drink/drug driving, vehicle emissions, not wearing a seatbelt and poor vision.
More than three quarters (76%) ranked speeding or distraction most highly; 18% opted for drink- and drug-drivers, 3% vehicle emissions, 2% poor vision and 1% opted for wearing a seat belt.
Younger respondents (44 years and under) said speeding is the biggest threat, while those aged 45 years and older rated distraction as their biggest fear.
While Road Safety Week is supported by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) is concerned that Brake is ‘exploiting their Road Safety Week to advocate a political modal shift agenda’.
Brake and its partners are calling on people to sign the ‘Brake Pledge’ during Road Safety Week.
The Pledge is intended to raise awareness of the importance of drivers: staying slow (drive under speed limits); silent (never make or take calls, read or type); sober (never drive after any alcohol or illegal or impairing drugs); sharp (stay focussed, don’t drive tired, get eyes tested); secure (everyone belted up); and sustainable (walk, cycle or use public transport where possible).
The survey results suggest that what drivers believe to be the biggest threat, and the bad behaviours they engage in, don’t correlate.
Older drivers in the survey were more likely to admit to speeding but say distraction is the biggest threat. Conversely, younger drivers said they are more likely to drive while distracted, but say speeding is the biggest danger.
Brake says these findings suggest that ‘people are inclined to think their own risky behaviour is not the most threatening: it’s someone else’s, different behaviour that is the problem’.
Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, said: “Road Safety Week’s theme is action-orientated. Anyone can make and share the Brake Pledge – individuals, businesses and community organisations.
“Our survey shows that drivers are aware of the threat of risky behaviour by other drivers, but are inclined to play down the riskiness of their own behaviours. Everyone who drives has to step up and take responsibility – then our roads would be safer places for everyone.”
Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, NPCC lead for roads policing, said: "We are delighted to support this Brake campaign and urge all road users to sign and share the Pledge, but also to think seriously about the promises you are making.
“We need to change attitudes because a few moments’ distraction at the wheel can and does cost lives. This is about more than just identifying the problem – you have to think about what you are doing, and the risks you are taking. Don’t put others in danger. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road."
The ABD, however, says a ‘politicised road safety agenda is sidelining and removing driving skills and good drivers from the road safety equation’.
In a statement, the lobby group said: “Every day millions of drivers get in their cars and successfully manage hundreds of potential incident risks week after week and year after year. We believe it is time their efforts are recognised and championed.
“The aim of all road safety organisations is to prevent accidents and casualties. Ordinary drivers are already achieving these aims yet are hindered and penalised by the measures advocated by organisations such as Brake.”