Major roads policing review launched amid spike in accidents and crime figures

Police and transport officials announce two-year Road Safety Action Plan amid spike in drink-drive deaths,

Police car

A major government review into how the UK’s roads are policed has been announced, with motorway bosses and the Home Office joining the police to launch a two-year Road Safety Action Plan in a bid to improve road safety.

Recent figures have revealed the number of fatalities caused by drink drivers recently reached an eight-year high, while the number of pedestrians killed on the UK’s roads reached a nine-year high in 2017, and overall accident rates haven’t fallen significantly since 2012. 

There has also been a severe drop in the type of offences roads police would normally solve in recent years, with the number of drivers cited for careless or dangerous driving falling from 276,000 in 2011, to 179,000 in 2016.

Police cuts 

These trends come in the wake of cuts that have seen the number of dedicated police traffic officers fall by 24 per cent between 2012 and 2018, as funding cuts see traffic enforcement increasing left to speed cameras. The fall in traffic officers has been felt so sharply that one senior police officer recently described the UK’s roads as being like “Wacky Races”.

The number of seatbelt offences logged during the same period fell from 137,000 to just 19,600, despite the fact that one in four vehicle occupants killed in 2017 (the last year for which figures are available) wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

The number of roadside breathalyser tests carried out by police, meanwhile, fell from almost half a million in 2013 to just 147,000 in 2017, while the proportion of positive breath samples provided by tested drivers increasing from 9.4 per cent to 12.4 per cent over the same period. Drug driving offences were also up by 90 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017, though this rise may be linked to the mass adoption of roadside DrugWipe tests by police. 

The Road Safety Action Plan

The first-of-its-kind review into road policing, funded by the Department for Transport and Highways England, will “look at how roads policing currently works, its effectiveness, and where improvements could be made”. 

While details of the review are thin on the ground, recent initiatives have seen long-range speed cameras that can detect offences from a kilometre away trialled, while MPs have called on local councils to be given powers to issue traffic penalties to make up for police shortages. 

Police have also been trialling roadside alcohol breathalysers that provide evidential readings, negating the need for officers to carry out a second test at the police station, and removing the potential for offenders to sober up enough to pass this second test as they are taken to the station. 

Edmund King, president of the AA, welcomed the investigation, but cautioned: “The biggest deterrent to someone drink-driving, picking up their phone behind the wheel or driving without insurance, is to have a very strong and very visible police presence. Reducing the number of specialist traffic police by a third over a decade has meant that some drivers feel they can regularly drive or act dangerously in their cars and get away with it.”

What do you think needs to happen to improve the situation on UK roads? Let us know in the comments...

Recommended

VED road tax: how much does it cost?
car tax calculator
Consumer news

VED road tax: how much does it cost?

Confused by VED road tax? Our comprehensive guide explains how much you'll pay on your next car
2 Aug 2021
Cyclists and pedestrians prioritised in upcoming Highway Code revisions
News

Cyclists and pedestrians prioritised in upcoming Highway Code revisions

Latest Highway Code changes look to strengthen the priority of walkers and cyclists over motorists
30 Jul 2021
UK road pricing: UK plan to plug the fuel duty gap
Motorway
News

UK road pricing: UK plan to plug the fuel duty gap

The Government’s plan to plug the £30bn gap in lost fuel duty is taking shape with bans on petrol and diesel car and trucks looming
13 Jul 2021
Four million people in the UK have fallen asleep while driving
Tired driver
News

Four million people in the UK have fallen asleep while driving

Research produces worrying revelation that four million UK motorists have nodded off behind the wheel at some point
16 Jun 2021

Most Popular

New Dacia Duster facelift priced from £13,995
Dacia Duster facelift - front
Dacia Duster

New Dacia Duster facelift priced from £13,995

The Dacia Duster has been updated for 2021 with subtle design tweaks and a new eight-inch infotainment screen
2 Aug 2021
New 2021 Volkswagen Taigo coupe-SUV breaks cover
Volkswagen Taigo R-Line - front
Volkswagen Taigo

New 2021 Volkswagen Taigo coupe-SUV breaks cover

The new VW Taigo is a sportier, more aggressive looking version of the brand’s T-Cross and is aimed at lifestyle buyers
29 Jul 2021
'Formula E could be on course for victory in its battle with F1'
Formula E opinion
Opinion

'Formula E could be on course for victory in its battle with F1'

Mike Rutherford thinks there can only be one winner out of Formula One and Formula E
1 Aug 2021