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Stop! Nearly half of Brits ignore traffic laws

UK drivers, you are a naughty bunch. Research by road safety charity Brake and insurance broker Direct Line has found 49 per cent of you willingly ignore traffic laws.

25 per cent of those 1,000 drivers surveyed admit breaking them because they are failing to pay attention, while 23 per cent admit doing so deliberately, leading to concerns UK roads are becoming increasingly lawless.

A 4 per cent increase in road deaths and serious injuries goes against 69 per cent of drivers rating themselves as safer than most other drivers, the report said, up from 50 per cent in 2005. 58 per cent, meanwhile, said they believe there are more dangerous drivers than safe drivers in the UK.

Worryingly, those aged 17 to 24 are the most likely to think they are safe at the wheel, with three out of five (58 per cent) believing they are “much” safer. Given the much higher proportion of crashes in this age bracket, Brake believes overconfidence is a big problem.

It helps little that young drivers believe older drivers are more dangerous because they are less aware of bad habits.

Absolutely no one aged 17 to 24 years old thought they were “much more dangerous than most drivers”, while just one per cent said they were “slightly more dangerous”. 29 per cent said they were “average”, 30 per cent said “slightly safer” and 39 per cent claimed to be “much safer”.

Just 51 per cent said they never break traffic laws comprised 60 per cent females and 42 per cent males. 9 per cent, meanwhile, said they broke the laws because they “think the laws are wrong or unnecessary”. 2 per cent simply said because “they can get away with it”.

The report looked into what sort of unsafe driving behaviours were of the most concern. 71 per cent said distraction caused by mobile phones, eating, drinking or anything but driving was the most worrying, with the same again worried about tailgating. Speeding was the next biggest pet hate, taking 67 per cent of the vote.

Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: “As these figures make clear, law breaking on our roads is not just down to a minority but endemic. For whatever reason, many seem to feel they are beyond the law or that traffic laws are somehow optional.

“This represents a failure by government to ensure traffic policing is receiving adequate priority and to make clear the importance and legitimacy of traffic laws. Traffic laws exist to save lives and prevent injuries and terrible suffering. No matter how experienced or skilled a driver you believe yourself to be, you cannot break them safely.”

Direct Line director Rob Miles added: “Drivers continue to flout the rules of the road without realising the devastating impact their actions can have. Traffic laws are there for a reason and breaking them puts lives at risk.

“Breaking the law whilst behind the wheel can lead to a criminal conviction and being declined for car insurance, with even minor offences leading to fines and increased insurance premiums.”

Brake is calling for the government to make traffic enforcement a national policing priority in a bid to reduce casualties and make streets safer – in the wake of a 23 per cent fall in traffic police numbers, from 5,635 in March 2010 to 4,356 in March 2014.

While it may seem like fewer bobbies on the beat is a fundamental problem, it would be foolish to disregard the increasing number of cars on UK roads. Let’s also not forget 1,000 drivers is a very small sample, but if only half accurate it is a worrying trend.

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