New statistics released by the Home Office reveal a record-breaking number of speeding fines, with over 2.5 million drivers facing penalties, driver awareness courses, or court action in 2022. Additionally, a significant rise of 93% year-on-year has been reported in the number of drivers caught using a mobile phone while driving.
Changes to Highway Code Led to Prosecution
Jack Cousens, Head of Roads Policy for the AA, commented on the trend, stating, "Almost 3 million drivers were caught and prosecuted for how they acted on the roads. With speeding at a record high, it is a timely reminder that the best speed regulator is the driver’s right foot." Cousens emphasised the impact of the tightened laws on mobile phone use while driving, acknowledging the AA's role in raising awareness about the dangers of using phones behind the wheel. He urged drivers to prioritise safety by refraining from phone use while driving.
The Home Office data also sheds light on changes in road user behaviour following amendments to the Highway Code in January 2022. The introduction of a hierarchy of road users and improved pedestrian protections resulted in a one-third increase in offences related to neglecting pedestrian rights and traffic signs compared to 2021. This aligns with recent research from the RAC, indicating that 31% of drivers believe pedestrians face increased danger at junctions post the Highway Code changes meant to enhance safety.
Operation Snap, an initiative that uses driver-owned cameras, including dashcams in cars and GoPro-style cameras used by cyclists and horse riders, is helping law enforcement capture instances of dangerous and poor road behaviours. While police officers and official enforcement cameras issue most fines, the rise in video footage from citizen-owned cameras contributes to a significant increase in the chances of capturing and punishing bad driving behaviours.
Cousens said that Operation Snap was a great addition to road policing but also highlighted the importance of maintaining a balance and not relying solely on technology. He stated, "Police forces are utilising the footage to hold drivers to account and using the film as evidence to prosecute offenders. The best way to deter illegal driving behaviours is to increase the number of traffic officers and visible presence on our roads."
In conclusion, the Home Office figures indicate a concerning rise in speeding fines and mobile phone offences, underscoring the need for continued efforts to promote road safety. The role of citizen-owned cameras in aiding law enforcement is acknowledged, but there is a call to complement technological measures with an increased presence of traffic officers for a comprehensive approach to deter and penalise unsafe driving behaviours.