Road Danger Reduction Forum)
rdrfJanuary 10, 2018
1. Before collisions occur.
2017 saw a report from the RAC Foundation which highlighted the number of motoring offences picked up by cameras. Ostensibly a protest against the loss of traffic police officers and the associated lack of enforcement of serious traffic offences , it was actually a complaint against the use of cameras for minor offences, “punished” by fines. (In fact, traffic offences have always had a very small chance of resulting in arrest). The report was greeted with front page outrage by the Daily Mail:
which complained about the “relatively minor offences such as speeding and red light offending…”(my emphasis). In fact, the number of speed camera based fines for speeding was about 1 million. As illustrated in the previous post on this subject, the proportion of drivers who regularly break the laws on speed mean that several million (the precise amount depends on what kind of vehicle driver, which speed limits etc.) drivers are regularly breaking the law in this area.
In other words, this report might note that the chances of being caught for speeding are actually very low – probably about one in 15 regular speeders may get a fine in a year. Instead, its spokesman, Steve Gooding (formerly a senior official in the government’s Department for Transport) stated: . “If thousands of drivers a day are getting tickets this is a clear indication of a system that is failing.” The answer might be – for an organisation concerned with responsible driving – that there should be more enforcement, with the realistic chance of being caught with a deterrent penalty likely to stop the offence in the first place. For example, in November we were told that half of all speed cameras in the UK are switched off .
Instead, it appears to take the opposite view. This approach is further illustrated by a look at the research interests of the report’s author : “…a special focus on crimes of the law abiding …In particular I am interested in how ostensibly law abiding citizens react to being labelled a problem by the justice system..” (my emphasis). The oxymoron is of central importance to this matter: for the author of a report by a well-funded organisation with charitable status which “…advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist”, the people committing crimes when driving are still “law abiding”.
We come back to this issue at the end of this post. Plainly the fact that much – but not all – of the driving public doesn’t consider driver crime to be “real crime” is important. Although one might expect a charity claiming to speak for “the responsible motorist” to more apparently and vigorously oppose such an attitude.
Another issue is driving while uninsured. I argue that third party insurance is in fact insuring the driver against their responsibilities – but I won’t bother to continue that line of argument here. Suffice it to say that about 1 million cars are uninsured . According to this report
last year, only 15% will be caught.