Safe behaviours and enforcement

More than a third of serious collisions in London have speed as a contributory factor.

Transport for London Vision Zero Action Plan
  • Many collisions are the result of five careless and dangerous driving behaviours: travelling too fast; becoming distracted for example by a mobile phone; undertaking dangerous manoeuvres; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; or failing to comply with the rules of the road.
  • Marketing, training and road user education all play a role in addressing these behaviours but clear police enforcement is paramount.
  • Effective enforcement relies on regular reporting of collisions, active use of on-street officer enforcement and widespread camera enforcement.
  • Enforcement activity should also be promoted widely in order to amplify its effect.

In London, police data shows that 93% of all factors contributing to collisions are due to a limited number of behaviours:

  • Inappropriate speeds. Inappropriate speed is a factor in up to 37% of collisions resulting in death or serious injury on London’s streets.
  • Dangerous manoeuvres. Failure to look properly was a factor in 58% of collisions in London, a poor turn or manoeuvre was a factor in 27% of collisions, while failure to judge another person’s path or speed contributed to 21% of collisions.
  • Distraction. 18% of Londoners used a mobile phone while driving, riding or cycling in the previous month, with 12% saying they always, regularly or sometimes carry out this behaviour.
  • Drink/drug driving. 8% of road fatalities in 2016 in London involved people driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Vehicular and driver/rider non-compliance. London has the second highest proportion of uninsured drivers in the UK, with 70,384 drivers found driving without insurance between 2013 and 2016.

Enforcement

Education, training for professional professional drivers and riders, marketing and communications programmes are all important in helping drivers drive more safely. But given the level of non compliance with traffic laws (including how over half of drivers will choose to exceed the 30mph speed limit by five mph or more), clear police enforcement is also needed.

RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, offers a range of guidance on enforcement and traffic justice. This includes its invaluable London Traffic Law Enforcement Baseline Review (2019) and the national review of Lawless Roads. Road safety charity, Brake also publishes a range of resources about road policing in the UK.  Cycling UK also campaigns for improved traffic law enforcement.

PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) has a research project underway which is reviewing the role of roads policing and its contribution to road safety. 

There are some signs that where good policies are in place, the police are able to play a positive enforcement role, for example in Avon and Somerset, West Midlands, Wales and London.

And it is a good sign that in July 2019, DfT and Highways England launched a two year review into road policing, which is supported by the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs Council. A public consultation is also to be undertaken. 

It is also a good sign that in July 2019, DfT and Highways England launched a two year review into road policing, which is supported by the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs Council. A public consultation is also to be undertaken. 

For effective enforcement you need to see the following:

  1. Police acknowledging road safety as a priority for communities and adopting it as a local priority
  2. Regular reporting of enforcement activity at the local level. The Metropolitan Police is now being much more transparent about its enforcement activity and is publishing annual reports with Roads Policing Enforcement Bulletins reports available which cover the years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
  3. A harm reduction approach with active use of on-street officer enforcement for the most dangerous behaviours including inappropriate speeds, distraction (use of mobile phones while driving), drink/drug driving and careless and dangerous driving and driving without insurance, licence and MOT.
  4. Widespread speed and red-light camera enforcement. Most traffic offences sanctioned are detected by cameras.
  5. Promotion of enforcement work to magnify its impact. Examples of this include the West Midlands Police Traffic Investigations Unit, the Metropolitan Police Vision Zero work and Avon & Somerset Police.