The Roads are Un-policed!

I asked my self the other day when was the last time I saw a traffic police car on the road driving around? hmmmm… I thought long and hard but couldn’t give my self a definitive answer. Either they are doing a great job of hiding but not catching anyone or there aren’t any.

With the lack of Police patrols on the roads, drivers get away with speeding, drink driving and using their mobile phone whilst driving. In the case that they do get caught, the fines and penalties are not large enough to stop them from doing in the future. And as the motorist is aware that there aren’t many patrols, they know the chances of getting caught is slim.

I see people breaking road laws on a daily basis and not once do they get caught, they put other road users at danger and can serious hurt or kill innocent people. But how can we solve this problem?

More police on the roads.
That’s right, if we put a bigger police presences on the roads, then people won’t act like idiots all the time. They can use unmarked cars to blend in with regular drivers and catch people red handed. With more police on the roads and more fines given out, it will mean that the points system will actually work. As you have more of a chance of getting caught then you are more likely to get points and reach the limit. This will mean that over time, the people on the roads will be the safe drivers.

Fines relative to income
A £60 fine is nothing to someone driving around in a £60,000 car who earns more than £200,000 a year. I suggest that we do what Finland do and fine people relative to their last known income. This will help cover the costs of the extra officers required to catch offenders.
In finland a fine was handed out for €170,000 (£140,000) to a driver that was going around 45mph in a 30 zone. The police in the UK could make a comfortable living if people were charged that much.

CPS need to give decent sentences for traffic crimes
The amount of times I see a news report of a conviction given to a motorists for killing an innocent road user and the sentence is below poor. The fine isn’t high and they are only in jail for a few years and if they get a driving ban, it often runs along side the jail sentence which often means by the time they come out, they are allowed on the roads again.

But is it really the polices fault that driving standards are so bad? Well it kind of is, if the roads are un-inforced then people get away with bad driving a few times and then they continue to do it. Lets not forget how people learn to drive, the test isn’t particularly hard and the theory you are required to ‘learn’ is often forgotten as soon as they have passed the theory test.
As a cyclist I would like to see a section of the test that is devoted on how to drive around vulnerable road users and the duty of care they should have towards us.
At present drivers are put onto the road without any real experience around cyclists and the mentality of most drivers is that the speed limit is in fact a target. What the often fail to see is that over a set distance a bicycle can actually be just as fast and that rushing past us actually gets you no where.
I also think that there should be some re-testing involved , everyone 5 years you should have to go back and take your test to prove that you know what you’re doing and you haven’t picked up any bad habits.

Driving is a privilege and not a requirement or should I say, driving should be a privilege. I myself am a driver, and I know what sort of damage my vehicle could do to someone, because of this I take care when I’m driving and I look out for other road users.

Recently, Martin Porter QC (A cyclist and a helmet camera user) called out for courts to do more to protect cyclists after the tragic death of former boxer Gary Mason.

I don’t claim to know anything about how the Police work, my ideas about funding and more staff to catch more drivers may be a wild dream that is never practical, but we can all have our little perfect world.

9 thoughts on “The Roads are Un-policed!

  1. Excellent article Gaz which raises some very valid points. I fully agree that drivers do seem to have a total disregard for road laws. The majority seem fairly happy to break the speed limit and a minority seem to think that driving and talking on a mobile is still acceptable. As you point out the chances of them being caught are often very slim as it’s all to easy to either slow down or drop a mobile if and when they see a police car, hence un-marked cars are a good idea.

    Interestingly I do keep hearing about the police traps that are run in central London to catch the bane of the roads – RLJing cyclists! Quite why the police can’t implement a similar system to catch those drivers on their phones (speeding in central London is nigh on impossible unless you own a supercar!) or even use the same RLJing “hitsquads” to have a word with drivers that encroach on ASL’s?

    Of course this could lead to more convictions and hopefully driving bans but until a workable system for enforcing a driving ban is brought in it’s worth little more then the paper it’s written on. You only have to look at the figures for uninsured and untaxed cars to see how difficult it would be to do, there is at present NOTHING stopping a banned driving from picking up a car from practically anywhere and driving it, again fairly safe in the knowledge the chances of them being caught are practically nil.

    1. If we brought in more police cars with anpr cameras then it should pick those people up easier and with more police on the roads these people should quickly get caught.

      1. The ANPR will only pickup the cars that are not insured (by anyone, not necessarily the driver in the vehicle at the time) and/or taxed. Whilst this would be a good start I can’t really see a feasible way of stopping those individuals with a driving ban getting back on the roads.

  2. All these points and fines for minor things are too complicated. Get rid of the lot.

    If you are caught doing something on the roads that you would have failed your test doing then your licence is revoked. You can retake your test whenever you like with appointments available same day if you want (although there might be a premium for such an appointment) and you aren’t allowed your licence back until you pass. The council look after your car for you at their car pound until someone with a licence collects it.

  3. I’ve had exactly the same thoughts for some time now. There just aren’t any consequences to driving badly because nobody is watching, and even when people are caught, the penalties are light.

    It would seem that speed cameras have largely replaced traffic police, yet they are only effective for a very short distance either side of their physical location. Most drivers also now have satnav which warns them of the locations of the cameras so that the need to reduce speed is only temporary.

    A car has the potential to be a lethal weapon. If I were to wander round pointing a gun carelessly and shot somebody, I’m quite sure I would find myself jailed for a long time.

    There seems to be a general perception that there is a “war on the motorist” due to rising fuel prices, proliferating speed cameras and car tax increases. This clearly doesn’t amount to a “war” of any kind, but as long as people remain ignorant as to the cheaper, cleaner alternatives to car use, they will resist anything which gets in the way of their beloved cars.

  4. Jenny Jones, a Green Party London Asssembly member, did a report on the fall in the number of traffic police in London a few years back: link. Might be worthwhile seeing if she can bring the figures up to date.

  5. Totally agree with this.

    It is wrong that you can pass your test at 18 and the be ok to drive a car 5, 10 or 15 years later without a retest. A retest will only take a few moments for the instructor to find out if it is the theory or the lack of driving you are missing.

    I just got back from Australia and they have a much harder fine system than here. Which made driving and cycling there a pleasure, they will stay within the speed limit even when you had 2-3 miles of clear, wide and empty roads ahead of you.

  6. I said on various websites and in letters to the press and DFT that there should be retesting every 5 years. I was laughed about (even by fellow cyclists), as I’m a nondriver, but I think it holds water when you’re operating heavy and dangerous machinery, so whats different with motor vehicles?

    I also see that whenever someone like myself mentions the lack of Policing usually some meathead will start moaning that “Cyclists are never fined!” The last time someone spouted off about that I pasted several links from Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, Dorset (specifically Bournmouth) and in Hampshire of Police and PCSO taking action on cycle lights and other transgressions. Funny how they never replied to me.
    ANPR is now small and portable, is it not? Suitcase sized. It could be easily used here as I’m sure a number of drivers will be uninsured and unlicensed judging by the state of their vehicle.

    Isn’t it weird how you never see Motorist groups campaigning for more Police to stop bad road practice. People like the AA and the RAC almost seem to defend bad drivers, and I read today someone comment on a news site that the AA campaigned against the mobile phone law. If thats true then its shameful.

    I know districts where I could sit by the road and count mobile phone use as 1 in 3. I’ve been on the motorway in a family members car several times in the past year, its been p***ing with rain and we’ve been doing about 65mph. Other cars will whizz past at double our speed. There was some argument (and a logical one at that) that said we should install average speed cams in as many places as possible, not just in the black spots. This would benefit us when we can then section off the trouble makers and they’d realise theres no where to run.

    Lastly I think there should be more cams on the traffic lights. I see so many drivers fly through a red now its a joke. These cams could use motion sensors too to find out if RLJing cyclists are putting themselves at risk also, to placate the morons. ;-P

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