Law-abiding motorists frustrated by the lack of police presence on Britain’s roads now believe there is little chance of law-breakers being caught and prosecuted.
The RAC Report on Motoring 2014 reveals many motorists in 21st century Britain think there is little risk of being caught breaking the law at the wheel for anything other than speeding or running a red light: offences typically enforced via cameras.
The survey results showed two in five drivers (40%) believe anyone committing common offences such as texting at the wheel of either a moving or stationary vehicle, aggressive driving, tailgating, middle lane hogging or undertaking on the motorway would more than likely get away with it.
As a result 60% of motorists surveyed for the report – now in its 26th year – believe there are insufficient numbers of police officers on the roads to enforce driving laws.
While the vast majority of motorists are law-abiding, with only three million of more than 35.8m drivers having points on their licences, there seems to be a perception among many motorists – rightly or wrongly – that drivers won’t be caught if they flout the law.
This is especially the case with the use of mobile phones while driving as, disturbingly, half of motorists (51%) think it is unlikely drivers will ever get picked up for texting while stopped in traffic. In fact, only 18% believe motorists are likely to be taken to task with the rest (22%) uncertain as to whether they will or they won’t.
Only three in 10 motorists (29%) think drivers will get into trouble for texting on the move while 42% think it is unlikely (31% were not sure or did not have an opinion). For the new offences of tailgating and middle lane hogging only a quarter (24%) and one in five (22%) respectively think motorists are likely to be pulled up by a traffic police officer. In terms of aggressive driving, 40% of motorists felt drivers would be unlikely to be caught (30% likely) and for undertaking on the motorway the figures were 49% unlikely and only 20% likely.
RAC technical director David Bizley said: “Our research shows that millions of law-abiding motorists are frustrated with the reduction of traffic police and believe that the chances of drivers being pulled up for breaking the law are now minimal. Motorists are tired of constantly seeing other drivers breaking the law and getting away with it so it is hardly surprising that they want to see a greater police presence on our roads to enforce motoring legislation more effectively, which would also act as a genuine deterrent.
“It is no wonder that a third of motorists (34%) are concerned about other drivers talking on hand-held mobile phones and one in five (22%) about other motorists breaking traffic laws generally.
“Very worryingly, our research also found that three quarters (75%) of motorists report regularly seeing other people talking on mobile phones, with 44% saying they see this happening during most of their car journeys, yet only 8% of drivers admit to using a hand-held phone on most journeys.”
“As for speeding, 40% of motorists admit to breaking the limit on country (43%), urban (42%) and 20mph roads (44%), but by far the worst non-compliance is on motorways where the figure rises to 67%, perhaps a symptom of today’s lower police presence and the fact fixed speed cameras are not used to enforce 70mph on motorways.
“Against this background, it is not surprising that 70% of drivers told us that the motorway speed limit should be raised 80mph or above.”
The full report is available online at www.rac.co.uk/reportonmotoring.