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Drivers consider themselves careful despite admitting to speeding, study finds

Joe Robinson
19 Nov 2018

New poll finds that majority of drivers speed while most support automatic bans for those convicted of dangerous driving

A recent study has found that 91 per cent of people deem themselves to be careful drivers, despite almost 60 per cent also admitting to speeding in order to get through an amber light turning to red.

In a poll carried out by UK charity Cycling UK, nine out of ten drivers said they considered themselves to be 'careful and competent' drivers, the standard for which careless and dangerous driving is legally considered to fall below.

Of the 2,123 adults surveyed, 58 per cent admitted to speeding to beat a red light, with 52 per cent also admitting to having broken a 20mph speed limit and 57 per cent having admitted to breaking a 30mph speed limit.

The same study also found that cyclists and motorbikes are 63 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than car drivers, making them by far the most vulnerable road users.

Using last year's data from the Department of Transport, it also found that a cyclist or motorcyclist is killed or involved in a life-threatening accident once an hour on average.

The same study also had 6 per cent of drivers admit to driving under the influence and 16 per cent admit to driving while using a handheld mobile device. It also found that 4 per cent of drivers deemed themselves careful drivers despite using a mobile phone at the wheel at least once a day.

Cycling UK also found overwhelming support for mandatory bans for any drivers who cause serious injury or death. Over three-quarters of people believed drivers who cause serious injury should face an automatic minimum ban with 83 per cent calling for an automatic ban if somebody has been killed. 

The same proportion of people also called for retesting if a driver had caused serious injury with 86 per cent calling for retesting if there was a fatality. Currently, mandatory retesting is only required for drivers convicted of death by dangerous driving.

Ministry of Justice figures from 2017 showed that 28 drivers convicted of causing death by careless driving were not directly disqualified while 61 drivers who caused serious injury by dangerous driving also escaped a ban.

These findings also come days after psychotherapist and writer Lucy Beresford caused controversy by labelling cyclists 'narcissists' on the Jeremy Vine show for not recognising 'that cyclists are not the only people on the road'.   

Cycling UK's head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, commented on the findings criticising current laws surrounding dangerous driving.

'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,' said Dollimore.

'Whilst 91% of respondents with a full driving licence thought they were ‘competent and careful’ drivers, over half of them admitted to speeding on roads with 30mph limits and 20mph limits, the latter usually being imposed around schools, hospitals and where our children walk and play.

'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.'

Director of campaigns at Brake, Joshua Harris, followed Dollimore's claims calling for a review of the current legislation.

'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.'

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