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Deterioration in behaviour of drivers during lockdown

The Honest Truth, a national road safety initiative, has launched a ‘Ten Truths’ campaign focusing on the key risky driving behaviours which make young drivers vulnerable on UK roads.

Safety factors addressed by the campaign include: distractions, speed, drink driving, drug driving, fatigue, awareness of vulnerable road users and inadequate insurance of young drivers by insuring as an additional driver on a family member’s policy (fronting).

A recent poll by the AA found that drivers think the behaviour of road users, from cyclists to car drivers, has deteriorated since the COVID-19 outbreak. In the survey of nearly 20,000 AA members, one quarter of people felt that car drivers and cyclists were behaving worse now (both 25%). However, the results weren’t overwhelmingly negative. 21% of respondents felt that the behaviour of car drivers had actually improved.

Respondents who complained of worse road behaviour fell into two equal camps: those that blamed car drivers; and those pointing their fingers at cyclists. However, pedestrians were widely regarded as behaving well.

Most improved road behaviour:
Pedestrians (25% agree)
Car drivers (21% agree)
HGVs (12% agree)

Most deteriorated road behaviour:
Cyclists (25% agree)
Car drivers (25% agree)
Motorcyclists (16% agree)
More than one in ten respondents (12%) said that they thought HGV drivers’ behaviour had improved since the crisis began.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Less traffic doesn’t mean that drivers should start drag-racing at traffic lights, dangerously overtaking others or ignoring the speed limits. Drivers should also leave a wide ‘social distance’ when overtaking cyclists.” He urges drivers and cyclists to have patience and keep their distance, especially around those on family bike rides and walkers with young children.

Many police forces have reported an increase in speeding, as some drivers turn quieter roads into racetracks. The Metropolitan Police enforced 800 speeding offences last week, more than triple the total during the same period in 2019, including one driver caught doing 93mph in a 30mph zone, and 34 incidents of drivers exceeding 100mph.

When the coronavirus lockdown was first implemented, telematics data from SmartDriverClub showed an immediate 82% drop in the average number of daily customer journeys. Since April 21, SmartDriverClub have announced a steady increase in journeys with a sharp spike in the last week. The UK’s roads are getting busier, while the Department of Transport are implementing a policy to increase and widen bus and cycle lanes. Patience from all road users will be required as the nation gets moving again.

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3rd of June 2020

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