Driving lessons face increased abuse from other road users
Learner drivers are on the receiving end of more abuse than ever before.
That’s the conclusion of a report by the BBC.
Driving instructors say they and their learner drivers are experiencing regular abuse from other road users. Incidents of intimidation, swearing and being spat at have been reported.
Police are encouraging drivers to gather and share video evidence. This can help them prosecute offenders.
The investigation centred on the Bristol area, though the issue isa national problem.
Jacqui Barr, an instructor with Top Hat Driving School in north Bristol and South Gloucestershire, says the abuse had “got much worse since the pandemic”. She believes people’s general patience is wearing thin.. As more and more issues face te UK population post lockdown, form the cost of living crisis to potholes, failing public institutions to the false promises of Brexit.
“It’s quite depressing really, because it’s pretty much every week we will get beeped at,” she said.
“A common one is you get really aggressive overtaking from people,” continues Barr. “Sometimes they’ll come round you on the wrong side of the road, go up on pavements, things like that.”
“If you’re very unlucky you might get a bit of verbal abuse as well,” she adds.
Earlier this year, she reported an incident to police in which one of her learner drivers was spat at while practising a manoeuvre.
Avon and Somerset Police are investigating.
Driving instructor Marcus Sheppard from Bubble Driving School describes dangerous antics of drivers.
“A significant number of other instructors are very cheesed off with it, some have left, and some have taken to teaching in unmarked cars, so they don’t become a target for people’s abuse.”
One former pupil of Sheppards, Poppy Allen, was unnerved during her driving test when a member of the public wound down their window to shout obscenities at her.
She passed her exam and the examiner said she had done nothing wrong.
“I just think it’s despicable behaviour,” says Ms Allen.
“A driving lesson or a driving test is nerve-wracking enough. I think to then hurl abuse at someone that’s obviously trying to learn is just not acceptable. I think you have to be quite a nasty person to do that to someone.”
A survey by Marmalade insurance found 81% of learner drivers surveyed between October 2021 and March 2022 had experienced abuse or intimidation. They admitted it was regular, with 11% saying it happened on most journeys.
The most common problem reported was tail-gaiting.
Others reported being cut-up, involved in face-to-face confrontations and even being bumped into.
In a statement, Avon and Somerset Police said: “We encourage people to share video evidence (dashcam, cyclecam, helmetcam and others) of driving offences.
“All the submissions we receive are reviewed and help us to prosecute offenders for a range of motoring incidents, including near misses and driving while using a mobile phone.”