Driving Safety Culture 2020

Research report posted on 23/04/21 |
Safer Roads and Mobility

This is IAM RoadSmart's sixth annual report on the opinions, attitudes and behaviour of British drivers. In a year dominated by COVID-19 it is clear that drivers are still concerned about their safety when using our roads.

Potholes are considered the biggest issue compared to three years ago, which underlines the continuing frustrations of British drivers’ and the need for guaranteed long term investment to deliver a safe and efficient road system. Driver distraction and traffic congestion make up the remaining top 3 concerns. Interestingly traffic congestion was the top concern in the pre COVID-19 year of 2019.

Consistent with 2019 levels, there are eight issues which at least 80% of motorists consider to be a threat to their personal safety. Drivers text messaging or emailing, drivers checking or updating social media and driving after drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs are considered the most serious threats. Patterns are broadly consistent with the previous six years which show the concerns of road users have not changed much with only minor fluctuations.

The survey asked about 16 acceptable/unacceptable behaviours, out of which driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit on a motorway and talking on a hands free mobile were the only types of behaviour over half of motorists believe other people consider acceptable. This is consistent with overall safety perceptions that use of social media, typing text messages or emails, driving and drinking or using drugs are largely considered unacceptable. Patterns are broadly consistent when motorists were asked to indicate the behaviours they personally found acceptable.

The strength of this survey is its ability to confirm trends over time. The results show a worryingly high number of drivers still feel speeding is acceptable even in residential areas. Acceptability of using hand held mobile phone is also still too high. 5% of drivers still think it acceptable to drive after taking alcohol or marijuana. There is still strong support for key road safety initiatives such as a lower drink drive limit, however far too many drivers (43%) still seem to think it is acceptable to travel at 10 mph over the speed limit on motorways, with 10% admitting to having done this regularly in the previous 30 days.

For IAM RoadSmart, and other opinion formers, these results show that we must maintain our efforts to make speeding as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving, particularly among men! It is also clear that the messaging around distraction from hands free smartphone use is still not cutting through to any level of acceptability and understanding.

To read the full report click here or download a copy via the image below.

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