Three in four people in the UK support automatic minimum driving bans for motorists who cause serious injuries to other road users, according to a new poll from Cycling UK.
The findings of the survey have been released today to coincide with the start of Road Safety Week, which runs until next Sunday 25 November.
Besides the 77 per cent of respondents calling for a minimum ban for drivers convicted of causing serious injuries, 83 per cent said that an automatic ban should apply where the driver was found guilty of killing someone, which should apply automatically where the charge is causing death by dangerous driving.
However, the charity says that figures from the Ministry of Justice for last year show that 28 drivers convicted of the lesser offence of causing death by careless driving did not have a direct ban imposed on them, as well as 61 motorists guilty of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
The poll also found strong support for mandatory retesting before drivers disqualified in cases where serious injury or death has resulted, at 83 per cent and 86 per cent respectively. Currently, retests are only compulsory where the driver has been sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving.
The survey, conducted last week by YouGov among 2,123 adults, of whom 1,585 are motorists, also asked the latter to give their opinion of their own driving.
Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s commented: “It’s clear the public believe that drivers who have presented the most danger to others should be removed from our roads, but they’re less clear about what amounts to risky behaviour.
“Whilst 91 per cent of respondents with a full driving licence thought they were ‘competent and careful’ drivers, over half of them admitted to speeding on roads with 30 mph limits and 20mph limits, the latter usually being imposed around schools, hospitals and where our children walk and play.
“If so many people are unable to recognise that speeding in such areas presents risks, and that they’re not driving carefully and competently when doing so, it’s no surprise that our laws around careless and dangerous driving are in such a mess.
“Those laws are based on the standard of the careful and competent driver. However in court, this standard is based on the subjective views of what jurors see as acceptable driving behaviour, not on what is actually safe.
“We need to review our road traffic laws so there’s a clearer objective standard for the driving we expect on our roads, otherwise what’s judged to be careless or dangerous driving will remain a lottery."
Cycling UK has recently repeated its call for the government to make good on a 2014 pledge to carry out a wide-ranging review of all road traffic offences, including how such cases are investigated, prosecuted and sentenced.
“As we head in to Road Safety Week 2018, now is the time to focus on the solutions to make our roads safer for everyone,” Dollimore added.
“The government has one of the answers: a wide review of road traffic offences and penalties announced in May 2014. Since then little has been done, which is why this week Cycling UK hopes they will finally take road danger seriously and make good on this promise and begin the review.”
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, the charity that co-ordinates Road Safety Week, added: “Our road laws must do all they can to protect us from unsafe drivers, but flaws in the current framework limit this ability.
“A review of road traffic offences and penalties is needed to regain the public’s trust and to ensure that just and fair outcomes are consistently delivered.”
After pressure from Cycling UK and Brake, Members of Parliament are due to debate road safety at the House of Commons tomorrow evening and you can send your MP a pre-prepared letter to ask them to attend by following this link.
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.