Almost three-quarters of people believe a lack of road traffic officers is making it easier for drivers to get away with motoring offences.

The results are from a survey of 15,500 motorists by the AA. It finds that 74% of respondents believe motorists can get away with a variety of driving offences due to a lack of police presence on the road. Furthermore, they believe only 16% of people who committed a careless driving offence would be caught and punished. Meanwhile, it’s thought that just 22% of drug-driving offenders and 26% of uninsured drivers would be apprehended.

The survey also finds that the drivers surveyed didn’t believe road policing had changed significantly since 2017. The only exception to this is speeding. In this case, the general feeling is offenders are more likely to be caught than they would have been four years ago.

Criminal fast lane

The AA is concerned by the trend for less police out on the roads. Without the deterrent, motorists are more likely to feel free to drive in a dangerous or unlawful manner. This “continuous low levels of expectation that law-breaking drivers will be caught” could lead to more problems.

Some 85% of respondents feel that having a visible police presence makes the roads safer. Only 20% said it was likely for them to see a police car on their local roads, rising to 25% on motorways.

Technology is cited as a way forward in traffic policing, especially with reduced personnel. However, only 14% of drivers believe roads can be policed using cameras alone. Interestingly, 57% would like to see Highways England traffic officers given more powers, while 42% say the same regarding police community support officers.

Active deterrents

“Drivers clearly feel that the lack of police officers on the roads means that the likelihood of getting caught for some major offences is hugely diminished,” according to Edmund King, president of the AA. “In order to achieve zero road deaths by the end of the decade, we need to do more to warn drivers that if they break the law they will be caught.”