British drivers call for tougher road safety laws

Article date: 14 June 2007

British motorists (98%) claim to be safe drivers, yet a fifth feel unsafe on the nation's roads. With over half (56%) believing that Britain's roads are less safe than they used to be, motorists are calling on the government to introduce stronger safety initiatives in the battle to reduce road deaths and injuries.

Over three quarters (78%) of motorists told researchers for RAC's 2007 Report on Motoring that they want the government to reduce road deaths by at least 10%, and six out of 10 (59%) want to see a 50% reduction*.

Harsh measures welcomed by the 2,000 drivers surveyed for this year's RAC Report on Motoring include:

  1. Public naming and shaming of drink drivers 73% 
  2. Increasing random breath testing of drivers stopped by police 71%
  3. Reducing drink drive limit to 50mg per 100ml of blood 69% 
  4. Installing "alco-locks" (breathalisers that prevent ignition activation if the drivers blood alchohol is too high 67%
  5. Introducing speed cameras that photograph the driver 59%.

And although nearly a third (29%) of drivers do not believe they would pass their test if they were to take it tomorrow, the majority of motorists still believe it's the actions of others that make the nation's roads unsafe. Over three quarters (76%) of drivers believe that other motorists driving under the influence of illegal drugs is dangerous to personal safety, 74% blame other motorists' drink driving and 62% blame other drivers' lack of attention when driving.

In support of motorists' concerns, RAC is today meeting with MPs and policymakers to campaign for the introduction of clear and specific goals focused on drink-driving, drugs-driving, speeding, driving without legal documentation and long-term bans for causing death or serious injury. RAC also wants national target figures to be unpacked into specific localised targets that reflect regionalised concerns and priorities.

Debbie Hewitt, managing director, RAC, explains: "It is unacceptable that over a quarter of a million people are killed or injured on our roads each year. As the ‘voice' of the British motorist this Report on Motoring shows that the time has clearly come for the government to get tough on making our roads safer.

"We recognise that road safety issues are not consistent across the country. This is why we are calling for the introduction of local targets to reduce overall road deaths and injuries at a national level."

Robert Gifford, executive director, Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety, adds: "The RAC Report on Motoring makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the views of the motoring public. I welcome RAC's efforts to keep road safety at the top of the public and policymakers' agendas. However, we all have a role to play - road deaths and injuries can only be significantly reduced through a collaborative approach between government, local authorities, and road users themselves."  

RAC's policy demands
RAC believes a revised government policy should include additional or more severe measures in five key areas:

Drink driving:

  • Reduce blood alcohol limit to 50mg in line with the rest of Europe
  • General strengthening of penalties for convicted drink drivers, as follows:
    • Minimum two year ban for first drink driving offence
    • Permanent points on licence after disqualification
    • Automatic banning for life after third offence
    • "Alco-locks" for convicted drink drivers
    • Introduce general policy of random breath testing of all drivers stopped by the police.


  • Urgent introduction of drug testing devices
  • Penalty regime in line with that of drink driving
  • More targeted publicity campaigns on drug driving
  • More specific and co-ordinated research on drug driving
  • Greater clarity around driving on legal drugs.

Driving at inappropriate speeds in sensitive areas:

  • More use of "average speed" cameras
  • Step-change in usage of non-punitive, "vehicle-activated" signs on roads
  • General reduction to 20mph limit in most sensitive areas, in consultation with local communities.

Driving without licence, MoT or road tax:

  • More powers to stop and check at random
  • Greater powers to seize a vehicle.

Causing death or serious injury:

  • Greater use of long-term bans, including lifetime bans.


RAC Press office contact:
Lucy Haughey  (01603 354337 / 07800 690149) or Liz Kennett (01603 688263 / 07800 699667) or Leila Bateman on 07973 956850

ISDN telephone interviews available and filming opportunities at RAC Bescot, with views of the M6 and RAC's busy call centre can be arranged.   A variety of case studies also available.

Note to editors:

* Department of Transport recorded 3,021 road deaths in 2005.

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part of Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at

About the Report on Motoring
The most comprehensive report of its kind, the RAC Report on Motoring 2007: Driving Safely? is based on the views of 2,029 British motorists (defined as currently having a valid driving licence and driving at least once a month). The drivers, who were nationally representative on age, gender and socio-economic groups, were interviewed by Quadrangle, in person, in their homes between February and March 2007.

The quantitative research was supported with qualitative research provided by seven focus groups representing the following key motorist types:

  • Young/ new drivers
  • Elderly drivers
  • Company car drivers
  • Driving for work
  • School run Mums
  • Offenders
  • The "average" motorist
  • Two further groups were held with pre-driving teens aged 15-16: one group of girls and one of boys.

Until 1999, the RAC's Reports on Motoring were called ‘The Lex Report on Motoring'.  Despite this change in name, consistent research methods have been used throughout.

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