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Drivers believe they are careful and competent despite rule-breaking

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Alice Sanderson, November 21, 2018

A survey by Cycling UK has found that 9 out of 10 drivers describe themselves as ‘careful and competent’, despite 58% admitting they go through amber lights as they turn to red, and 57% ignoring 30mph speed limits.

52% also admitted to ignoring 20mph speed limits, which are usually imposed around schools, hospitals and places where children play or walk.

Survey

While there may be some disparity on what is considered acceptable when it comes to red lights and speeding, an overwhelming 94% agreed that drink and drug driving was unacceptable and said they have never done so.

A further 84% said they would never use a handheld mobile phone while driving. Although 4% of the drivers who classified themselves as ‘careful and competent’ said they use a mobile while driving at least once a day.

The survey of 2,123 people, which was published by Cycling UK in support of Road Safety Week (19-25 November), also revealed that 77% of those surveyed believe that drivers convicted of causing serious injury should face an automatic ban.  83% supported automatic bans in cases where a driver has killed someone.

Many were also in favour of having to retake the car test for people found guilty of causing serious injury (83%), and death (86%).

Cycling UK

Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, said: “It’s clear the public believe that drivers who have presented the most danger to others should be removed from our roads, but they’re less clear about what amounts to risky behaviour.

“If so many people are unable to recognise that speeding in such areas presents risks, and that they’re not driving carefully and competently when doing so, it’s no surprise that our laws around careless and dangerous driving are in such a mess.

“Those laws are based on the standard of the careful and competent driver. However, in court, this standard is based on the subjective views of what jurors see as acceptable driving behaviour, not on what is actually safe. We need to review our road traffic laws so there’s a clearer objective standard for the driving we expect on our roads, otherwise what’s judged to be careless or dangerous driving will remain a lottery.” 

Changes needed

Mr Dollimore goes on to say: “As we head in to Road Safety Week 2018, now is the time to focus on the solutions to make our roads safer for everyone. The Government has one of the answers: a wide review of road traffic offences and penalties announced in May 2014. Since then little has been done, which is why this week Cycling UK hopes they will finally take road danger seriously and make good on this promise and begin the review.”

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity, Brake said: “Our road laws must do all they can to protect us from unsafe drivers, but flaws in the current framework limit this ability. A review of road traffic offences and penalties is needed to regain the public’s trust and to ensure that just and fair outcomes are consistently delivered.”

Spokesperson for First4Lawyers, Andrew Cullwick, said: “It is clear that there is some disparity on what is considered careful and competent driving. The law surrounding dangerous driving does not help matters by being so ambiguous. We support Cycling UK and Brake in their ambitions to encourage the government to change the law and protect drivers and cyclists alike.”