Tackling common, bad driving offences effectively would help create a safer and more attractive environment for cycling and walking....
Tackling common bad driving offences effectively would help create a safer and more attractive environment for cycling and walking. In particular, the drink/drive limit should be lowered in England and Wales, and hands-free mobile phones banned.
'Common Driving Offences' is one of a series of CTC briefings covering various aspects of traffic law and enforcement. Others consider bad driving in the context of the legal framework in general and specific aspects of it including sentencing, prosecution, the courts, the vital role of the traffic police, and driver training, testing and licencing (forthcoming).
Speeding: In Britain each year, 'exceeding the speed limit' or 'travelling too fast for conditions' contributes to around a quarter of road fatalities. In 2013, 46% of cars broke the 30 mph speed limit in built up areas, although 90% of people believe that drivers should obey speed limit law.
Drink/Drug driving: In 2012 (GB), 13% of all road fatalities (230 people) happened in incidents where a driver was over the limit. In December 2014, Scotland cut its drink/drive limit to 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood, bringing it in line with most EU countries except for England, Wales and Malta where the limit is still 80mg/100ml. In 2013 (GB), 36 people were killed in incidents where a driver/rider was impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal).
Mobiles/other distractions: In 2013 (GB), there were 26 fatalities and 95 serious injuries in crashes where the police thought that using a mobile phone was a contributory factor. 67% of people feel that the law on mobiles is not properly enforced, but 1 in five drivers admit that they’ve committed the offence in the past 12 months. Over half a million UK drivers have points on their licence for the offence, or being otherwise distracted. Drivers are four times more likely to crash when using a mobile phone.
Entitlement: Uninsured and untraced drivers kill around 130 people and injure 26,500 every year. The risk of crash involvement for un-licenced drivers could range between 2.7 to 8.9 times greater than that for all drivers.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy):
Exceeding the speed limit
Speeding fines are currently too low to have any significant impact on driver behaviour.
Extreme speed (e.g. 20 mph+ over the limit) should be treated as dangerous driving in the first instance.
There should be no margin over the speed limit at which a driver avoids penalty.
The drink-drive blood alcohol limit should be lowered in England and Wales from 80mg/100ml to not more than 50mg/100ml, in line with most European countries and Scotland. Novice drivers should not be allowed to drink at all before driving.
We support the use of targeted checkpoints, but also believe that the police should be given more freedom to carry out random breath testing.
Alcohol interlocks should be fitted in offenders’ vehicles. If successful, the measure should be extended.
The definitions and standards for drug-related driving offences should relate solely to whether a drug impairs the ability to drive; it should not relate to whether it is legal to use it - i.e. over-the-counter and prescription drugs should be included.
Mobile phones and other in-car distractions
Use of hands-free mobile phones whilst driving should be banned.
More research needs to be done on the impact of other in-car distractions (e.g. SatNavs, radios, in-car computers etc.). Drivers who put others in danger because they have been distracted by such devices need to be appropriately penalised.
Driving without entitlement
Any driver convicted of a bad driving offence whilst unlicensed or disqualified should receive a custodial sentence for the crime.
Cyclists should behave responsibly and legally, but the law should recognise that they do little harm and should not have to choose between keeping safe and obeying rules...
Cyclists should behave responsibly and within the law. They pose little risk to others, however.
Cyclists are often faced with the difficult choice of either acting legally or keeping safe. Children, for example, may feel safer cycling on the pavement alongside a busy, hostile road, but are in breach of the law if it hasn’t been converted to shared use. It is important that the law and those applying it take this into account. The planners and designers of the road network need to be mindful of this too.
Whilst CTC encourages cyclists to undertake cycle training and to have insurance cover, making training or licences compulsory for cyclists is unworkable and would deter people from cycling occasionally or giving it a try. It would not solve any problems and the running costs would be prohibitive.
In collisions involving cyclists in Great Britain, the police are around twice as likely to assign no ‘contributory factor(s)’ to them than to the driver/rider of the other vehicle;
In 2013 (GB), in collisions involving a cycle where the police assigned a contributory factor to a road user, they decided that just over 1% (187) of the cyclists ‘Disobeyed automatic traffic signal’ and around 2% (309) contributed by ‘Not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility’;
With around 23 million people aged 5+ owning a bicycle in England, a licensing and compulsory training system for cyclists/cycles would be complex and very costly – not much less so than the current system for licensed drivers (almost 32 million) and private cars (over 24 million);
Mile for mile in urban areas from 2009-13 (GB), motor vehicles were more likely than a cycle to seriously injure a pedestrian, and over twice as likely to kill them;
The pavement or verge is not where most pedestrians are hit by a cycle: over the last 5 years in Britain, one out of the 14 incidents in which a pedestrian was killed in collision with a cycle happened on the pavement or verge.
In London (1998-2007), just 4% of reported pedestrian injuries due to red-light-jumping involved cyclists - the other 96% were hit by red-light-jumping motor vehicles. Even on the city’s pavements, just 2% of reported pedestrian collisions involved cyclists, the other 98% involved motor vehicles.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy):
Cyclists, like all road users, should behave responsibly and within the law.
The enforcement of road traffic rules, and penalties for breaching them, should be proportionate to the potential danger imposed on other people, especially vulnerable road users. This principle also applies to off-road rights of way.
Road traffic rules should not put cyclists in situations where they feel they must choose between acting legally and protecting their own safety. Those responsible for making and enforcing the rules must take into account the reasons behind cyclists’ offending behaviour.
CTC does not condone unlawful cycling on pavements (footway). However, the police should exercise discretion in the use of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for pavement cycling and discriminate between those whose behaviour is dangerous and antisocial and those who are acting out of concern for their own safety without presenting any threat to others.
The police and others charged with applying the law should be able to send offending cyclists on training programmes as an alternative to prosecution or fixed penalty notices (FPNs).
Highway authorities should tackle any hazardous road conditions or poor design that may explain illegal behaviour by cyclists in certain locations.
A system of compulsory licensing and cycle training is unworkable and unjustifiable, not least because children have the same legal rights to cycle as adults and expecting them to hold licences is impractical. While the running costs would be high (i.e. similar to schemes that apply to motor vehicles and drivers), the benefits would be negligible, and the bureaucracy involved likely to seriously deter newcomers and occasional cyclists.
CTC does not actively support Critical Mass, but recognises the motivation of those involved.