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

Coroner calls for smart motorway review following M1 deaths
smart motorway
News

Coroner calls for smart motorway review following M1 deaths

The deaths of two men in a smart motorway collision could have been avoided if there had been a hard shoulder, coroner rules
19 Jan 2021
Councils to get new powers to issue fines for traffic offences
Box junction
Consumer news

Councils to get new powers to issue fines for traffic offences

Local authorities will be able to fine drivers who commit moving traffic contraventions under legislation being drawn up
18 Jan 2021
UK drivers to escape EU speed camera fines due to Brexit
Citroen DS Eiffel Tower
Consumer news

UK drivers to escape EU speed camera fines due to Brexit

UK’s departure from the European Union puts an end to cross-border directive, leaving EU countries unable to enforce speeding penalties for drivers ca…
13 Jan 2021
Driverless car users may not be liable in accidents
Jaguar Land Rover autonomous testing - static
Consumer news

Driverless car users may not be liable in accidents

Law Commission proposes motorists in driverless cars should be renamed “users in charge” as part of “no-blame culture”
18 Dec 2020

Most Popular

Electric Nissan e-NV200 Winter Camper concept revealed
Nissan e-NV200 Winter Camper concept
News

Electric Nissan e-NV200 Winter Camper concept revealed

All-electric campervan features a built-in kitchen, a folding bed and a power pack that can be recharged using a roof-mounted solar panel
21 Jan 2021
Updated Abarth 595 range launched with fresh interior
Abarth 595 2021 - main
Abarth 500

Updated Abarth 595 range launched with fresh interior

Subtle styling tweaks and a more emissions-friendly engine range for revised Abarth 595
22 Jan 2021
BMW 5 Series vs Audi A6 vs Volvo S90
BMW 5 Series vs Audi A6 vs Volvo S90 - main
Car group tests

BMW 5 Series vs Audi A6 vs Volvo S90

Can plug-in hybrid power create a clear winner out of the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 or Volvo S90
23 Jan 2021