Drivers Change Habits After Tougher Fines Introduction

Survey Reveals New Penalties Making Motorists Take More Care


The introduction of tougher penalties for careless driving has led to many drivers claiming they have altered their habits in response.

A poll by the AA and Populus found 29 per cent of motorists saying they have changed their driving for the better in the past 12 months to ensure they are more sensible and careful behind the wheel. This figure varies a little by region, with the north-west seeing the greatest number of drivers changing their habits at 32 per cent, while the Scots changed least at 26 per cent.

However, motorists are sceptical about the way others have reacted to the imposition of stiffer fines, with 74 per cent saying they have not observed a change in the way others drive.

Indeed, only 12 per cent reported seeing fewer cases of tailgating than they did a year ago and just 11 per cent saw less middle lane hogging, despite both of these being offences for which stiff penalties were introduced last year.

The best way to change driver behaviour is more visible policing, according to 82 per cent of motorists. However, the extent to which this view is held varies, being expressed by 85 per cent of over-65s, but just 66 per cent of those in the 18-24 age range.

Commenting on the figures, head of roads policy at the AA Paul Watters said: "Careless driving has been an offence since the 1980s, but it was hoped that giving police the power to fine people for less serious examples of it would encourage drivers to change their behaviour, without clogging up the courts.

"These results show that enforcement must be a priority if these green shoots of progress are to be maintained."

Scepticism among younger drivers about the enforcement of the law may be linked to a greater propensity of this age group, particularly young men, to commit offences in the first place.

DVLA figures released under a freedom of information request showed that between June 2013 and June 2014, more than a third of the 92,000 motorists banned from driving were males aged between 20 and 30.

Expert Opinion
The statistics published by the AA indicate the positive impact that more stringent penalties for road offences is having on the way people in the UK drive. It is vital road users are vigilant while behind the wheel and treat other road users with respect and the report indicates tougher penalties have encouraged motorists to carefully consider the way they drive.

“However, we continue to see large numbers of people killed or seriously injured on the UK roads, so it is vital that more is done to remove careless driving from Britain’s roads and improve road safety.

“In particular, the penalties for causing death or serious injury by careless driving are still woefully inadequate in many cases and cause distress to injured people and their families, leaving a sense that justice has not been served.”
Neil Whiteley, Partner