The number of drivers in England and Wales convicted of traffic offences has risen in recent years since hitting a low in 2013, according to analysis of government data by IAM RoadSmart.
The road safety charity says that total convictions for motoring offences rose 19 per cent during the period, and highlighted an alarming 52 per cent jump in dangerous driving convictions.
Over the past decade, there has been a near seven-fold increase in the number of people convicted of ‘failing to supply information as to identity of driver when required.’
In 2016, some 82,029 people were convicted of the offence compared to 12,056 in 2006, which IAM RoadSmart believes “is most likely linked to increased forms of surveillance leading to more requests to confirm the identity of the driver.”
Greater use of electronic surveillance, targeted enforcement and a greater emphasis on roads policing compared to previous years are all cited by IAMRoadSmart as factors that may be behind the rise in convictions.
It said that in two areas – drink-driving and using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel – the number of convictions had fallen, adding that it “believes the dangers of both are finally sinking in.”
There were 39,000 convictions for drink-driving in 2016, down 10 per cent on 2013, while the number of people convicted of using a mobile phone fell from 32,404 in 2011 to 13,847 in 2016.
While IAM RoadSmart says that the latter figures may be explained by a greater awareness among drivers of the danger of using a mobile while driving, evidence from elsewhere suggests otherwise and the fall is most likely explained by a lack of enforcement with a downward trend for more than a decade now, predating the explosion of social media.
Last year, a survey carried out for the RAC Foundation suggested that 9 million motorists continue to use mobile phones illegally while driving.
Since the figures cited by IAM RoadSmart only go up to 2016, they also miss the impact of the crackdown by police that accompanied the doubling of penalties for mobile phone use last year, with 6,000 motorists found guilty of the offence in March alone.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “This will be good news indeed for motorists who have been concerned for a long time about the level of convictions for the most dangerous motorists.
“It also shows that the most serious motoring offences are being taken seriously by the courts – even though there is a long way to go an increased certainty of conviction might get some drivers out of the mindset of thinking they can get away with drink or drug driving or using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel of a car.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.