IAM RoadSmart, a charity dedicated to reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads, is involved in lobbying for improvements in road safety standards and leading the road safety debate with central government and within the motoring community. IAM RoadSmart is an advocate for lifelong personal development of driving and riding skills.
IAM RoadSmart analyses multiple issues and viewpoints when considering ways to improve road safety, not least those of it 90,000 members. Human factors are one of these – how the driver (or rider) interacts with the journey, the vehicle and the external world – as highlighted by the 2016 government report on road casualties: “All accidents have a cause and that cause is often someone making a mistake or exhibiting dangerous or thoughtless road behaviour”.
The 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Culture Index, a study of UK motorists’ attitudes towards driving. The report highlighted that the main areas of concern amongst motorists (who took part in the survey), included: Using a mobile phone whilst driving, aggressive driving and drug driving.
Whilst the UK has seen massive reductions in the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads over the decades, that figure has plateaued at just over 1,700 in recent years (reported road fatalities were 1,792 in 2016, 1,732 in 2015, 1,775 in 2014 and 1,713 in 2013. Reported serious injuries were 24,101 in 2016, 22,137 in 2015, 22,801 in 2014 and 21,657 in 2013).
Added to this, we are less than two decades away from driverless cars becoming popular on our roads. An important area of consideration is how driverless cars will exist on the roads alongside conventionally driven vehicles. What is certain is that the debate will not disappear as technology plays a bigger role in our motoring lives, and IAM RoadSmart will continue to play a central role in it.
IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, Neil Greig, said: “Five years of flat lining road deaths is unacceptable. The huge gains in road safety made in the past now seem a distant memory. The government must show more leadership to really drive down road deaths in the future.”
In addition, the numbers of drivers with 12 or more points has gone up by 9% in just seven months between March and October 2015 – from 6,884 to 7,517 (reference 1).
While the DVLA does not hold details as to whether all of those individuals were still on the road, it did state that individual courts have the powers to choose not to disqualify a driver.
In its reply to the IAM’s request, the DVLA said: “In a small percentage of cases where the driver has accumulated 12 or more penalty points, the agency understands that a court can exercise its discretion and not disqualify the driver.
“In the majority of these cases, magistrates may have decided to allow drivers to retain their entitlement to drive where it is considered that disqualification would cause exceptional hardship,” it added.
The location of drivers with 28 points or more across Britain by postcode district is as follows:
Separately the IAM has looked into the ‘top five’ and has discovered the following:
DVLA data shows that of the 45 million driving licence holders in Britain, three million have points on their licence. Some 100,000 have been disqualified over the past four years for reaching 12 points and four per cent got all their points in one go (reference 2).
The DVLA also says their evidence suggests 90% of drivers not disqualified are due to ‘judicial discretion’ (reference 2).
Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “The IAM has been highlighting this issue for several years now and we appreciate that the flow of information between the DVLA and the courts is slowly improving, which will allow the courts to make better decisions while armed with the full facts.
“However these improvements cannot come quickly enough to deliver a truly joined-up approach to the judicial process. Individual courts making decision on prosecutions can lead to inconsistency in how the law is applied which risks devaluing the simple ‘12 points and you’re out’ road safety message. If the public sees that persistent offenders are getting away with it, they may believe that road traffic rules – which let not us not forget, are designed for their safety – are ineffective or unimportant.”