Road Safety - Will New Laws Introduced in 2017 Save Lives on our Roads?
At Rivervale, we conducted a Road Safety Survey and the results told us;
• 70% of respondents admitted to exceeding the speed limit in the past 12 months
• 67% believe the motorway speed limit should be increased
• 1 in 8 drivers believe it is ok to check your mobile phone while stationary in traffic
• 1 in 8 drivers have picked their phone up while behind the wheel to read or send a text message
Accident Statistics for 2016
The Government provide statistics every year on the number of accidents on Great Britain’s roads and the factors that contributed to those accidents. In 2016, there were 217 fatal accidents which included excessive speed as a contributory factor and 5,102 accidents in total that cited speed as a cause. These figures have reduced slightly from 2015, but are still higher than those recorded in 2012 when 173 fatal accidents recorded speed as a factor, with the total number at 4745.
In 2016 ...
217 fatal accidents cited excessive speed as a contributory factor
32 fatal accidents cited mobile phone use as a contributory factor
In terms of mobile phone use the figures are increasing year by year. Back in 2012 there were 17 fatal accidents which cited mobile phone use as a contributory factor and in 2016 this number is higher at 32. When the total number of accidents involving the use of a mobile phone are considered a rise can also be seen from 374 in 2012, to 478 in 2016.
Accidents on our roads involving speeding and mobile phone use have increased from figures recorded 5 years ago.
New Tougher Punishments for Speeding and Mobile Phone Use in 2017
In an attempt to reduce the number of deaths on our roads the Government introduced 2 important new laws during 2017 to alter driver’s behaviour.
In the case of speeding, new powers were given to increase the value of fines drivers face when caught speeding. Drivers involved in the most serious driving offences can now expect to be fined up to 150% of their weekly wage compared to the previous 100% limit. The maximum fine cap has also been increased for those caught speeding on the motorway from £1,000 to £2,500. The message is clear, if you are caught speeding it will cost you more. These changes came into effect on 24th April 2017.
When considering mobile phone use, the punishments have been doubled, with new rules applying from 1st March 2017. Now, if a driver is caught using their mobile phone while behind the wheel they face 6 points on their licence and a fine of £200. This is particularly harsh for new drivers who can only accumulate 6 points on their licence as opposed to the usual 12, in their first 2 years of driving. A new driver caught using their mobile phone once would lose their licence. These tougher punishments send another clear message to drivers that mobile phone use behind the wheel is unacceptable.
But, are we listening? Do drivers even know about the new punishments? Have we all stopped speeding and using our phones in response to these new rules? At Rivervale, we decided to find out, our survey results would seem to suggest not all drivers are staying within the law all of the time …
Road Safety Survey Results
In terms of awareness, only 63% of the drivers we surveyed were aware of the new tougher punishments for speeding. Of all the drivers we quizzed;
- 70% admitted to speeding on at least 1 occasion in the past 12 months.
- 13% believed it was acceptable to speed so long as you were driving safely
- 15% thought it was fine to speed if there were no other road users at that time.
These results reveal a lot about drivers’ attitudes towards speeding, most will still knowingly exceed the speed limit. 67% went further to reveal they believed the speed limit on motorways should be increased and 30% believe it is perfectly fine to travel at 10% above the speed limit. What did survey participants think of the new penalties for those caught speeding? 66% didn’t think higher fines would make any difference to driving behaviour and so deter people from speeding.
Awareness of the new penalties for using mobile phones behind the wheel was found to be much higher with 88% reporting knowledge. Of those who were aware, 48% report they have changed their driving behaviour in response. This is positive news, it seems laws surrounding the use of mobile phones while driving is more widely understood and is making an impact on safety on our roads.
However, despite high awareness;
- 1 in 8 drivers still admitted they had used their phone without hands free technology to make/receive a call or send/read a text message.
- 5% admitted they have used their phone while behind the wheel to check or update social media.
You may assume this 5% were members of the younger generation, but this survey revealed 89% of those who had picked up their phones to check social media in the past year were aged 35 or over.
Participants in this survey sympathised with police as 57% agreed it is impossible to properly police the use of mobile phones behind the wheel, yet 56% did believe the new tougher penalties would alter driver’s behaviour and reduce the use of mobile phones while driving.
Banning the use of mobile phones behind the wheel clearly has public support. Yet speeding is the behaviour which causes more fatalities on our road every year, and is the law drivers break the most often. Last year, 1.97 million speeding tickets were issued. Despite the dire consequences, speeding seems to be the nation’s favourite bad habit. What more can be done to end our love affair with speed?
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