According to a new report from The AA, over half of UK drivers think they can get away with dangerous driving on Britain’s roads – because there aren’t enough police around to catch them. Following well-publicised cuts in the number of traffic officers, 54% think that they can escape prosecution if they use a hand-held mobile phone while they are driving.
A growing confidence
A further 55% of them said they would not be stopped for driving a vehicle that was in dangerous or defective condition for the same reason. The poll of 19,500 drivers saw 65% thought they were unlikely to be pulled over for a range of offences such as middle lane hogging or tailgating.
AA president Edmund King described the results as worrying and said there was a need for more ‘cops in cars’ to help deter people from breaking a range of driving laws.
In one respect, people’s opinions have a basis – the number of road police officers fell by nearly a third in the last ten years between 2007 to 2017, according to a Freedom of Information request sent by the Press Association. It means the number of ‘cops in cars’ has fallen from 3,766 to 2,643.
It is reflected in the perceptions of drivers, with 43% thinking that the police have no visible presence on the motorways, and 65% thinking they have no visible presence on local roads. Police presences have declined, but the fines for some minor offences have soared – due to the use of CCTV cameras.
According to Mr King, this worrying situation comes as people feel there are no police officers on the roads and therefore there is little chance of getting caught for different offences. And while the CCTV camera can act as a deterrent in some cases, a perceived presence from the police is the ultimate deterrent.
He further went on to say that the significant drop in specialist traffic officers means it has become more and more challenging to keep everyone safe on the roads around the country.
Breaking the rules is still costing British motorists a lot of money – the RAC Foundation issued a report recently showing that drivers are paying more than £1 billion in fines every year. 12 million penalty notices were handed out annually, the equivalent of one every 2.5 seconds. It also means around one-third of the 40 million motorists on the road are receiving a fine.
Speeding remains the most common reason to receive a fine, with new penalties with a maximum fine of £2,500 and anywhere from 3-6 points on your license. There are even situations where you can get an instant disqualification.
Using a mobile phone and eating behind the wheel are two other common offences that can lead to fines. Mobile phones can now see a £1,000 fine and 3 points and, in some cases, you can even be fined £200 for holding a mobile phone while driving regardless of whether you’re using it or not.
Around half a million fines were sent for offences such as not having insurance or failing to renew your driving license. No insurance is a serious one, and there are fines up to £5,000 with driving bans not being uncommon, and standard points given between 6-8. You will also see a substantial rise in your insurance costs when you do start driving again, as convicted drivers are seen as a higher risk.
Despite concerns about the lack of police presence, only 45% of those surveyed said that there should be more power given to Highways England officers. Just one third wanted police community support officers to pitch in and help with road policing.
According to Mr King, this shows that people want more police on the streets to deal with crimes when driving rather than any other option.
Have you noticed less police out on the roads? Do you agree there is a crisis? Let us know in the comments below.
The public is correct and the police/government are absolutely wrong, as an average driver I see drivers speeding, overtaking incorrectly and on motorways everybody and due to the twits in power, at least half of car owners do not tax their cars. This ludicrous situation is brought about by the fools in charge scrapping the road tax disc and relying on technology to pick up all non-road taxpayers. NO hope of that as the current estimate is that the government has lost over £200 million by the road tax evaders. So villains score 10/10 and the stupid people in power 1/10 !!
Of course you mean Vehicle Excise Duty, or car tax, rather than road tax?
We know what was meant, so stop ‘splitting hairs’ over it as that only distracts one from the subject matter.
If nobody is required to display a tax disc, then how do you know they’re not taxed? Just speaking out of your arse? it’s very difficult to drive around without tax, ANPR will catch you and you’ll get DVLA fines through the post. If you fail to pay then bailiffs will get in and the costs spiral.
Scrapping the physical tax is a GOOD think. Its safer and gives more visibility on the windscreen. it’s an archaic system too. Why do you need to prove you’ve paid road tax when it could be checked by computer? Also why even need to display you paid road tax. Do you advertise you’ve paid your NI, Income tax?
Abdul….You are assuming of course you were daft enough to have the car registered at your home address…
i agree. it cost more in lost tax than it did to run the office that made the tax discs in the first place. and if they want to keep things this way they need more cameras to spot the a renders.
its easy to get away without getting a car taxed. don’t go where there are any cameras. if there was out of date tax discs on cars offices and traffic wardens and the public could report it to the tax office,
unless you employ people to walk up and down every street in the country there will be those who thinks it ok not to pay,
Licence is a noun, license is a verb.
We are not American, so please use the Queen’s English.
But how many people don’t know what nouns and verbs are???
I do love a grammar Nazi
I think one of the most dangerous practices now is an epidemic of drivers jumping red lights. When driving I witness this numerous times per day.
One of the most prevalent and dangerous practices is an epidemic of drivers ignoring red lights. I see this several times daily when driving.
Very good but you never know who is in the car behind you till the lights come on you get stopped
Yes, unmarked police cars are more and more difficult to detect. They dont even drive the same cars. The vehicles they drive are represenative of the general public and come in all guides. Although there’s one guarantee though, police unmarked vehicles wont be customised/modified nor will they be more than 8 years old
Who is talking out their arse now! The point of having an unmarked car is not to alert law breakers of their presence so the harder to detect the better. You seem to have an issue with Police enforcing the law as all your posts whinge on about the Police doing their job. If you drive within the rules of the road then unmarked cars wouldn’t be a problem, would it.
I’m not surprised by the results of this survey. The roads and motorways are like the wild west, lawless. Most of the aggressive and over the speed limit driving seems to be done by drivers of Audi/Mercedes/BMW’s or large “luxury” Chelsea tractors, Why?? The considerate and law abiding drivers need help from the police.
There are a lot less traffic police now .I travel a lot, and rarely see a police car. Lots of money making cameras . And I see lots of phone use, middle lane hogging ,and other bad driving . If it was not for mot’s tax and insurance being checkable online ,I would say there would be very few legal cars on the roads.
One of the problems is that even when police see something wrong they ignore it. Last evening around 8pm we were riving past a police traffic car parked in a layby along a road that has a 10mph speed limit and a car travelling the opposite way had no lights on the front left hand side. And the police did nothing. If the police started doing their job and stopped ignoring things maybe driving standards would improve.
A work colleage of mine was stuck in traffic and got a text message, she just glanced at the phone for no more than 5 seconds, while she’s idle in traffic and got a £200 fine and 6 points by a police officer watching from a van. The van police are the worst ones to get caught by because they’re out and about looking out for things to book.
I bet she wished the police would have just ignored her.
its not the number of police on the road that’s the problem. its we need more speed cameras and not just on main roads but side streets if i drive from Swindon to oxford there are only 3 speed cameras on that trip. 10 would be more acceptable. and more average speed camera so when on a road you could get more than one camera and it would show if you had speeded up and then slowed down for the next camera,
less expense than police in cars. and with the new technology picture could go straight to a computer and sent as a fine direct to a fender
Yes, fine – but these cameras don’t log the tailgater, the middle lane hog or the apparently blind idiot that pulls out in front of you, and they certainly do not log the numerous cars with defective lights or bald tyres. There’s more to it than simply speeding, which is largely monitored for cash generation.
That’s right Steven King, big brother is watching you, make sure you stay in line else you’ll be sent for re-education. Brainwashed, thoughtless zombie
I agree there is much less of a Police presence on our roads these days. It’s a bit of a mixed feeling for me because to be honest I like to give it some stick now and again. I have 30 years plus driving experience in cars and motorcycles, and know when and where it’s ok to turn the wick up a bit. Speeding is not the big nasty everyone is programmed to believe. Gunning it along a clear stretch of open road with visible corner exits is a far cry from maniacally careening along a tight country lane with blind junctions etc. It’s the general driving standards that have declined. There is a definite need to get police back out onto the roads to get this under control.
Dammed right, many don’t think, they KNOW they can get away with atrocious driving. Living in the 2nd city I see diabolical driving on a daily basis. Many have no road sense let alone awareness of other drivers and pedestrians, especially those frail or with prams et al. Seen motorbikes doing wheelies without crash hats, NO POLICE! Speed kings cutting in by millimeters and on and on. I am not a slow driver and do not dither but I drive with care and within limits given. I am polite with other drivers and often am shown courtesy right back. Its just the increasing minority who are just selfish, stupid and I wonder if they have even taken the driving test.
Most of the police cars I see are in McDonalds car park or as runabouts going from one nick to another, very rarely do I see one pulling over one of the numerous nutters I DO see making life miserable and dangerous for law abiding citizens.
The police talk about tailgating but not what I consider more dangerous, cutting in right in front of you removing the safety space I have left between me and the car in front. especially on motorways where it’s just unnecessary as they can continue in the lane they are in until they have created a safety gap.
I assume it is still taught in driving tests that you don’t think about moving in until you can see the car you’ve overtaken in your rear view mirror!
It is a retrograde step to have far fewer traffic police on our roads for three reasons: One is that a marked police car has a calming effect on those drivers who see it. Two, is that traffic police are the only branch of the force that actually patrols, and the third is that criminals travel by cars and vans rather than public transport, consequently experienced traffic police who are patrolling arrest more offenders for offences that are not traffic related, but are detected because of vehicle stops. I speak from experience.
I live in a road with a 20mph limit, hourly I see cars coming into the road where there is no entry from and due to cars parked on both sides right up to the corners and oncoming cars using it as a rat run the road is then blocked. This is when I get a chair and a coffee and relax to watch the reality show and take bets on who is going to back down and how long it will take. never mind mobiles they do not even have a hand on the wheel – one for the phone one for the music, forget the light is red, just rev the engine and move forward with speed that clears the pedestrians, oh and that is with the Police holding station and main Police response teams 200 yards down the road. Have they ever come out? I have been here 27yrs and not once have they come down. However for some reason I do see about 20 of them and the vans doing vehicle checks at Hogarths crescent and creating chaos during the morning rush which extends that days rush hours to about 22.00. regularly people block drives and park on peoples property. Last week when my neighbor could not get in he just parked in the middle of the road blocking it totally and went to bed. No one came and he moved the car in the morning quite funny but sad state of affairs
I would be happier to see more police officers anywhere. Police numbers suggest that Mr Plod is an endangered species. Police stations are a rarity in London. The replacement police offices are hardly manned. The beat bobby in a long hat has vanished. Never mind feeling safe on a motorway, I wonder anyone feels safe in their own home.
Even the experienced traffic officers admit that it is impractical to stop every driver on the Mway speeding by a small mph. Being tied up with paperwork at the side of the road they miss the real delinquents who are racing along over the ton
Every Police force should have a department that can deal with videos sent in by motorists on their dashcam, although they may not be able to prosecute, an advisory sent to the registered owner may serve as a deterrent with a second video could justify a visit by the police. Seems that the Police only seem interested in drivers dashcam footage after the accident or fatally not interested in preventing accidents. You tube full of dangerous examples.
After accidents or dangerous driving incidents the drivers should be given 6 months to retake their test.
The whole traffic Police shortage is so bad even parking on pavements forcing pedestrians in wheel chairs and women with children being forced to enter the highway to pass. Parking incorrectly because of utter selfishness. Drivers doing exactly what regardless of other people’s safety
I very much agree with your Article; The Police should be “ Out and About” on our Streets and Highways. The police Motorbike and lesser motorised bike, would prove more efficient, economic, and effective above The expensive High performance Vehicle with two Officers.
One Officer with smart high quality communication and back up, is the answer.