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Survey reveals speed cameras are an acceptable part of UK driving

A report issued by one the UK’s leading road safety charities suggests that the British public support the use of speed cameras on our roads and believe they help reduce the number of accidents and injuries.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found that despite millions of drivers having experienced higher car insurance quotes after incurring speeding points on their driving licence, a big majority of motorists believe speed cameras are an acceptable tool for authorities to use in making road users comply with the law of the land. In all 82% accepted this argument with around the same figure believing speed cameras have helped reduce the number of deaths on our roads since they were introduced in the nineties. However, almost half of those questioned (45%) believe the cameras are primarily used as a money making operation by Government and local authorities.

Simon Best, Chief Executive of IAM, agrees with the 72% of respondents who believe speed awareness programmes are a good idea, saying “Simply catching and fining drivers does not change drivers’ awareness of the hazards of excessive speed. The popularity of speed awareness courses show that the public think training is the best option. Speed cameras are an essential part of the policing tool kit and are becoming more and more accepted – but it’s clear that some people need reassuring about their purpose and funding.”

There is no doubt that some people are sceptical about the uses of the speed cameras and it was perhaps no fluke that the survey showed that where there was a high incidence of motorists being caught flouting the law by the cameras there was also a high level of motorists who believed employing speed cameras was unacceptable.

Cyclists Pushing Their Luck at Traffic Lights

A well known road safety charity is urging police forces across the UK to crack down on road offences committed by cyclists in the same way as they do with motorists.

The call from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) follows a survey they carried out on regular cyclists via their website. The results of the survey were surprising to say the least, with well over half on the 1600 respondents saying they had jumped a red light and 1 in 7 saying they did it on a regular basis. Three quarters of the cyclists think nothing of riding on the pavement when faced with an awkward junction or a road without a cycle path and virtually all of those responding to the survey want to see more advanced stop lines (ASLs).

It is the ASLs that that are causing confusion with motorists in many places in the UK. An ASL is a road marking in the shape of a box placed at busy junctions to give cyclists a head start when traffic lights change. Considering that most cyclists in the survey broke the Highway Code specifically because they thought it was safer to do so then the placement of ASLs must be a good thing. However, not all motorists are familiar with them and many are now finding themselves paying more for car insurance after being caught inside them. Crossing an ASL is classed as the same offence as jumping a red light and motorists are being fined in their thousands.

Simon Best, Chief Executive of IAM, called for more stringent policing, saying “Changes to road layouts and junctions can improve safety for cyclists, but no junction will ever be safe for those who continue to jump red lights. It’s dangerous and illegal. The police need to enforce the law as strongly when cyclists put themselves and others at risk by jumping the lights, as they do for drivers. They also need to ensure that drivers are pulled up for crossing advanced stop lines that protect cyclists.”

Councils Cut Back on Road Safety Projects

A shocking report by one of the UK’s leading motoring organisations shows that councils in England and Wales are cutting road safety budgets almost en masse.

The report from the Institute of Advanced motorists (IAM) shows that on average every council in the UK is cutting spending on road safety priorities such as lollipop ladies, rehabilitation courses for errant drivers, training and information for new drivers and even safe routes to school schemes. The news will come as a setback to many motorists who believed that a recent meeting between government ministers, car insurance providers, and road safety experts had vowed to make road safety a priority.

Figures taken from councils who responded to IAM’s information request show that between them they intend to take over £23 million away from road safety initiatives in the next 12 months. IAM Chief Executive Simon Best was appalled at the information gathered in the report and said: “Austerity is forcing councils to make difficult choices, but the fact that these cuts only represent the first year of savings under the coalition’s spending review is deeply worrying. Cutting road safety so hard makes no sense. The average wage of a lollipop lady is £3,000 a year while the cost of each road fatality is £1.6 million. So the returns on investment are huge. Cuts of this scale risk lives as well as the UK’s table-topping status as the best in the world for road safety. The government needs to bring back casualty reduction targets so that councils make road safety a priority.”

Government sources said they had not actually taken any money away from local councils but had in fact given them a sum of money for them to choose how they spend it. A Government spokesman also pointed out that the Government had already made one off payments to local authorities to help them with road maintenance work after the two recent harsh winters.

One Million Drivers Over the Age of 80

A remarkable 1 million over 80s still hold a valid car insurance certificate and are driving around the roads of the UK, if a Freedom of Information request to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is to be believed.

The information was divulged to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) this week after they submitted the request several weeks ago. The reply also shows that over 100 drivers are over the age of 100 and that several of them have penalty points on their licence. Incredibly these centurions may never have taken a driving test in their life, as the driving test was not introduced until 1935.

Under current laws motorists have to renew their licence when they are 70 years old and every three years from that point. They don’t, however, have to sit a re-test and the only way the DVLA can hold back their licence is if their doctor refuses to sanction their application under health grounds. Current research shows that there are over 2,500 drivers over the age of 90 with points on their licence, but there is no conclusive evidence that older drivers are poor drivers or are more likely to have an accident. In fact figures show that over 70s have an accident rate 3 times lower than males in their teens.

Simon Best, the Chief Executive of IAM, insists older drivers should not be steered off the road, saying: “Older people need their cars which give them better mobility and access to more activities and services. Those who wish to continue driving beyond the age of 70 should only be prevented from doing so if there are compelling reasons.”

He went on to add: “Rather than seeking to prevent older people from driving, we should make them more aware of the risks they face, and offer them driving assessments to help them eliminate bad habits. Driving helps older people play a full and active part in society and they deserve the chance.”

Potholes still a big problem for drivers

Research has shown that a third of motorists have had their vehicles damaged by a pothole on the roads of the United Kingdom. The worrying figures were released by the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) who carried out the research.

A further 18% of those questioned said they have either been involved in, or have seen an accident which was caused by a driver hitting a pothole. Of the 3000 drivers who took part in the research, nine out of ten voted repairing potholes as the top priority for local council maintenance departments. Only 12% thought that the council’s current performance on maintaining the roads was good. In fact one of the questions on the survey was “What areas of road maintenance were being done well by the council?” to which 53% responded ‘none’, and half of the 3000 also thought that the roads were getting worse every year. With the premiums on a motor insurance quote increasing each year, some drivers are reluctant to claim for damage caused by a pothole.

IAM director of policy and research Neil Greig said: “The public is unhappy with the state of their roads, although many realise that spending cuts are the real problem. Eighty per cent of those polled thought that local councils should work more closely together to increase efficiency, and with no loosening of the public purse strings in sight it will take partnerships to ensure the backlog in road maintenance does not continue to stack up.”

The survey also revealed the majority of drivers believe roads are in such a poor state that they are unable to keep up with speed limits. Drivers are also worried about those who travel on two wheels as they are in constant danger of physical harm if they hit damaged sections of roads. They are also fed up with paying ever increasing fuel prices and road tax and feel some of this money should go on repairing the roads.