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Three quarters say drivers can get away with motoring offences – AA

Three quarters say drivers can get away with motoring offences – AA

Three quarters (74%)* of people say drivers can get away with a variety of motoring offences due to a lack of traffic police officers, according to the AA. 

The study of more than 15,500 drivers said they felt that only one in six (16%) people would be caught and punished for careless driving. Similarly, just a fifth (22%) would be caught for drug driving and a quarter (26%) would be caught driving without insurance. 

A worrying long-term trend of drivers thinking they can avoid prosecution has set in, with the perception of being caught for an offence barely moving. The only exception is speeding, where drivers feel there is more chance of being caught now compared to 2017. 

The AA is concerned that the continuous low levels of expectation that law-breaking drivers will be caught may encourage others to drive in a dangerous manner. 

Table 1: Q. One a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is 'no chance at all' and 10 is 'absolutely certain', how likely or not do you think it is that a driver committing each of the following offences on roads in the area where you live would be caught and punished? (NET Likely 7-10)

Are roads police officers undercover or simply not there? 

More than eight out of 10 drivers (85%) believe that having a more visible police presence would help make roads safer, however only a fifth (20%) of drivers said they were likely to see a police presence on their local roads compared to a quarter (25%) on motorways. While the presence on local roads has remained the same since 2017, seeing a police officer on a motorway has dropped from 29%. 

While the use of cameras to assist roads policing is generally accepted, just 14% say roads can be policed by cameras alone. Indeed, there is still a desire for more human intervention on the roads, with increasing support for both Highways England Traffic Officers and Community Support Patrol Officers to be given roads policing powers (57% and 42% respectively). 

Table 2: To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? (NET Agree)

The study comes as the Department for Transport finalises its findings following the consultation on roads policing carried out last July**, which asked for ideas to improve roads policing. The AA has called for more traffic officers as well as a firm commitment to setting national road safety targets with more localised targets set by Police and Crime Commissioners. 

Edmund King, AA president, said; "Drivers clearly feel that the lack of police officers on the roads means that the likelihood of getting caught for some major offences is hugely diminished. In order to achieve zero road deaths by the end of the decade, we need to do more to warn drivers that if they break the law they will be caught. 

"With more than eight of out 10 drivers saying that a more visible police presence would help make roads safer, more cops in cars are needed to change the tide. 

"We hope the response to the roads police consultation includes an ambitious plan to recruit more traffic cops in order to stop acts of bad driving early and before a fatal collision. There is also clear evidence that the most serious traffic offenders are much more likely to be involved in mainstream serious crime, and therefore targeting dangerous drivers helps reduce overall crime rates."

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