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.
The speed of motor traffic not only aggravates local communities, but also puts people off cycling. There are a number of measures that encourage and enforce slower driving, including physical traffic calming (e.g. speed humps).
The aim of traffic calming is to slow down the average speed of motor vehicles. In doing so, it reduces the speed differential between them and other road users and helps make road conditions safer and more attractive for cycling.
Traffic calming measures include physical alterations to the horizontal and vertical alignment of the road, e.g. speed humps and road narrowings such as chicanes.
If done badly, though, traffic calming can push cyclists and motorists riskily together through pinch points (e.g. at built-out sections of kerb), or force cyclists to veer or struggle (e.g. round or over a speed hump that’s been put in an awkward place or doesn’t have enough clearance from the kerb). Good traffic calming should help people follow the guidance given by national standards cycle training, not do the opposite - riding in the gutter, for example.
Traffic calming can be used as part of a package of other speed reducing measures, including 20 mph limits. Nowadays, however, local authorities have been given much more flexibility over introducing these limits without paying for costly physical infrastructure to enforce them.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy):
We are currently revising and updating our views on traffic calming and these will be published in due course. In the meantime, these are extracts from CTC's current Policy Handbook (March 2004).
Traffic calming can benefit cyclists by reducing the speed of traffic, provided it is of a cycle-friendly design. Vertical deflection can be very effective at slowing traffic but the ramps must have long, smooth profiles, approximating to a sinusoidal shape.
Wherever possible the introduction of pinch points that squeeze cyclists, e.g.: by providing central refuges, should be avoided. At 30 mph the minimum width beside a refuge that allows safe overtaking without intimidation is 4.5m. Only below 20 mph should narrower widths be considered.
Pinch points should not be introduced without consultation with local cyclists. Where such a measure is unavoidable, the Transport Research Laboratory has identified optimum widths for pinch points.
A very effective way to calm traffic in a benign manner is to have reduced priority at all junctions, such as the use of all-way give-ways in other countries.
There is a range of subtle but effective 'natural' or 'traditional' methods of traffic calming which can also be employed, such as are implemented in Home Zone schemes.