Results of a poll confirm we’re a nation of guilty double standards when it comes to the offences we commit and the penalties we expect.
GEM Motoring Assist’s survey of more than 3,000 of its members on the subject of distractions, offences and penalties showed that 11.4 per cent are prepared to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving, while 63 per cent admit to snacking behind the wheel.
Not only do thousands own up to breaking the law, they also admit to becoming dangerously distracted while driving, with 41.8 per cent admitting they tolerate more distractions at the wheel than they did 10 years ago. And yet a staggering 75.8 per cent of motorists want to see more traffic police clamping down on law-breaking drivers.
GEM chief executive David Williams comments: “The survey reveals the double standards at the heart of motoring in this country, and the enormous challenge the authorities face to promote behaviour change. On one hand, we are demanding tougher action against law-breaking motorists, but on the other hand millions of us are quite happy to admit to bad driving.
“In recent decades we have made considerable progress in persuading people not to drink and drive. Achieving a nationwide commitment to reducing driver distractions is a huge challenge, especially when you consider that 16 per cent of our respondents accept a level of driver distraction because it has so far not been a problem for them.
“As one of our respondents commented, manufacturers increasingly afford drivers the opportunity to communicate from their vehicles. The temptation to take advantage of this is too high for most normal people and punishing them is not going to provide the solution.”
The survey shows that opinion is split on the value of enforcement cameras, with 34.9 per cent of respondents calling for more cameras, 39.4 per cent happy with existing levels of automated enforcement and 25.7 per cent wanting fewer.
Following regular reports about drivers still permitted to keep their licences despite accumulating 12 or more penalty points, 66.4 per cent of respondents wanting courts to show a tougher, more consistent line in their sentencing of ‘totters’.
The Government does get a pat on the back for having speed penalties at the right levels, and with its plans to tighten mobile phone law for drivers.
GEM has a particular concern for the safety of vulnerable road users, and believes that a greater road policing presence provides an effective deterrent for drivers who would otherwise be prepared to take risks around pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists and other road users who need extra protection.
David Williams concludes: “Although it’s good to see that 62.6 per cent of our respondents are more geared to safety on journeys than they were a decade ago, it’s worrying that only 20.3 per cent say this is because they fear getting a ticket and a fine.
“We believe the Government priority should be to seek out a raft of new, compelling messages that will persuade drivers to banish distractions. At the same time, we call for a much-needed boost in traffic police numbers to deal with the riskiest drivers on our roads.”