More effective traffic policing is crucial for cyclists, and also helps tackle one of the biggest fears that many others have about taking up cycling in the first place - namely, bad driving...
A commitment from the police to tackle road crime plays a crucial role in protecting the public from bad driving.
The more traffic police there are and the more resources they have, the stronger the chance that bad drivers will be caught and brought to justice.
Well-trained traffic officers who investigate road collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians thoroughly can make all the difference to the likelihood of a successful prosecution. This, backed up by well-designed incident reporting systems and appropriate charging decisions, acts as a powerful deterrent against bad driving.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other agencies with road safety responsibilities also have an important part to play in enforcing road traffic law, and are as reliant as the police on adequate resourcing and good training.
In France, a ‘zero tolerance’ policy over speeding offences, and substantial investment in safety cameras and road traffic policing, saw road deaths drop by 43% (2001–2007). 45% of French drivers have said that ‘fear of punishment’ made them change their behaviour.
Fewer breath tests lead to more drink-drive casualties and more people driving over the limit.
Traffic police levels in England and Wales fell by 37% from 2002/3-2013/14, from almost 7,000 uniformed officers down to just 4,356. During this time, total policing levels fluctuated a little from year to year, but not nearly to this degree: police officers in March 2014 numbered about 3.5% less than in 2003.
In 2014, just 3.4% of all the police in England and Wales exercised traffic responsibilities; in 2013/14, they recorded about 59% fewer ‘dangerous driving’ crimes than in 2002/03.
Evidence suggests that offence history and being at fault in a road crash is clearly linked.
The Health and Safety Executive’s role extends to work-related road travel; around a quarter of all road casualties in Great Britain involve a driver/rider who is at work at the time (or their passenger(s)).
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy):
Investing in roads policing is highly effective, not only for promoting road safety, but also in tackling other forms of crime. It should be prioritised by national government and included in all overarching policing strategies and plans (e.g. the Strategic Priority Requirement in England and Wales). This would strengthen the case for individual police forces throughout the UK and Police and Crime Commissioners (England and Wales) to give it the priority it deserves.
Police and Crime Commissioners and local authority crime reduction/safety partnerships must prioritise speeding, dangerous driving and other road traffic offences as key issues to address.
The police should always refer serious injury collisions up to the prosecution service for a charging decision, not just those that result in a fatality. If they do not charge or decide not to refer the case, the police should be required to explain their decision systematically.
The police should avoid simply sending offending drivers on speed awareness or other remedial courses instead of prosecuting them. Such courses should be available as court sanctions, not as an alternative to prosecution.
The police should be trained so that they understand the practical and legal issues facing cyclists and other non-motorised users.
Wherever possible, the police should respond to any reported collision involving a cyclist or pedestrian by:
Attending the scene, taking statements and gathering evidence from witnesses;
Investigating incidents that result in very serious injury as thoroughly as those that result in death – the name of the College of Policing’s 'Investigating Road Deaths' manual should be changed, e.g. 'Investigating Road Crashes', to reflect the fact that it covers serious as well as fatal injuries;
Investigating reports of seriously bad or aggressive driving even when no injury occurs and allocating sufficient resources to do so – after all, such drivers are often involved in other criminal activity;
Investigating and where possible charging motorists who fail to stop with ‘leaving the scene of the accident’.
The police should facilitate collision and ‘near miss’ reporting (e.g. via online systems)
The victims of road crashes involving unlawful driving should be entitled to the same support services that other victims of crime receive.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should take a more proactive line over work-related road safety and should receive adequate funds to do so.