‘We need more cops on the road’: Three in four say motorists can get away with driving offences because there is not enough police presence
- AA warns a ‘worrying long-term trend’ of drivers thinking they can get away with offences has ‘set in’
- A poll of 15,500 motorists found that 74% think traffic offences go unpunished
- Some 85% said a more visible police presence would help make roads safer
- Only a fifth of said they are likely to see road traffic police on their local roads
Three quarters of people believe drivers can get away with a number of motoring offences because of a serious lack of traffic police officers on the roads, a new study has highlighted.
Just one in six think motorists would be caught and punished for careless driving because there aren’t enough traffic officers to police these types of crimes, a poll of more than 15,500 licence holders shows.
Similarly, just a fifth would be caught for drug driving and a quarter would be caught driving without insurance, the AA found.
More cops required: Three in four motorists believe drivers are getting away with breaking the law on the road due to a lack of policing
A total of 74 per cent of the panel said they believed there are motoring offences that go unpunished due to a lack of road policing.
The motoring group warns that 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 – though this is only due to the increased enforcement by speed cameras rather than motorists being clocked by cops.
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.
The majority, or 85 per cent of drivers, said having a more visible police presence would help make roads safer, however only a fifth of drivers said they were likely to see a police presence on their local roads compared to a quarter on motorways.
Some 85% of drivers said having a more visible police presence would help make roads safer, though only 25% said they are likely to see a traffic officer on the motorway
While the presence on local roads has remained the same for the last four years, spotting a police officer on a motorway has become less frequent, dropping by almost a third.
While the use of cameras to assist roads policing is generally accepted, just 14 per cent 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 per cent and 42 per cent respectively).
Last year, This is Money revealed that police forces up and down the UK were purchasing next-generation speed guns to catch drivers exceeding limits but also tailgating and other offences such as failure to wear a seatbelt.
Many constabularies have been training dedicated traffic Special Constables to support motor patrol officers to use the devices in a bid to catch more drivers breaking speed limits.
Just 20% of the 15,746 motorists polled said they expect to see a police vehicle on a local road
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.
Most recent data suggests that traffic officers have declined by more than a quarter within the last decade.
In 2010 there were 3,472 police patrolling the UK’s roads, but by 2017 this had fallen down to just 2,643. Some forces like Northamptonshire Police have recorded an 83 per cent decline in the number of roads officers, according to figures released in 2018.
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.’
King added that it hoped the result of the DfT consultation will spark an increase in recruitment of 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,’ the AA president added.
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