Drivers Rebel Against Road Safety and Traffic Calming Measures in Britain by Speeding Up or Taking Risks Elsewhere

One in twelve has had an accident trying to make up ‘lost’ time

8 July, 2004

[British] drivers are defying traffic calming initiatives by speeding up and taking risks to make up for ‘lost’ time, a study reveals today.

Two-thirds of drivers (67%) told researchers for windscreen experts Autoglass® that their response to road safety measures is to flout the Highway Code elsewhere.

After being forced to slow down by traffic calming measures, four in five break the speed limit (84%), seven in ten drive aggressively (72%) or jump amber lights (71%) and two in three will cut up another driver (68%) or use rat runs (67%).

As a result, one in 12 – the equivalent of 2.7m drivers – told Autoglass® they have had an accident of some sort. A quarter (25%) have had a near miss.

Nigel Doggett, managing director of Autoglass®, said: “The effectiveness of traffic calming measures in improving safety at danger spots has been clearly proven but it seems they are having an adverse effect on drivers’ behaviour elsewhere.

“This suggests that more needs to be done to ensure that drivers understand that road safety measures are genuinely working to keep them safe, not to inconvenience them. They certainly must not be seen as a justification for risk-taking elsewhere.”

Four in five (79%) drivers say they feel inconvenienced by road safety measures, six in ten (57%) say they feel irritated and 31% say they’re a cause of stress.

They say road safety measures are as annoying as being burgled or robbed (44%) or having their car broken into (48%).

By comparison, a third (35%) say they feel safer because of them and one in five (20%) say they feel protected.

In justifying their risky responses, drivers claim that road safety measures add 17 minutes to a typical journey.

Nigel Doggett of Autoglass®, said: “It seems that telling drivers to slow down or drive carefully in one place only makes them determined to speed up or take risks elsewhere.

“They then appear to exaggerate or over-estimate the inconvenience and lost time caused by traffic calming in order to justify their actions.”

Now, Autoglass®, which has sent its ‘Rebel Drivers’ report to road safety minister David Jamieson, is calling on the Government to provide drivers with yet more education on the effectiveness of traffic calming.

Doggett said: “We believe more persuasive arguments need to be made for traffic calming measures.

“If drivers continue to rebel against them, they will only create new danger spots and the stark option is that calming measures may have to be extended even further.”

Autoglass®, working with psychologist Dr David Lewis, has prepared a five-step plan to encourage motorists to think more positively about road safety.

The five-step plan is:

1.     Plan your route

If you know from the outset that you will encounter traffic-calming measures, you’ll be more likely to be relaxed when you do hit speed cameras, reduced limits or road humps – and less likely to rebel against them.

2.     Move your mindset

Stop thinking of traffic-calming measures as time-wasters and start accepting that they are protecting the safety of you and your loved ones and are saving lives on the UK’s roads every day.

3.     Refresh your routine

If you know that there are certain roads on which you are always tempted to speed or flout the road rules, avoid them and opt for another route.

4.     Break the habit

Once you’ve broken one rule, it becomes easier to break the rest. So every time you get behind the wheel, promise yourself that you will put safety before speed, and stick to it.

5.     Check your mirrors

You know those drivers who really annoy you? The aggressive ones who beep their horns or drive bumper to bumper behind you in the fast lane? Look in the mirror at your own behaviour and ask yourself how other drivers feel when you brake suddenly or jump short-timed traffic lights at junctions.

Footnote:

British motorists believe we have too many:

Road humps53%
Speed cameras49%
Traffic lights that only stay green for a short time43%
Calming measures such as chicanes/narrow roads28%
Reduced speed limit areas22%

Source: Autoglass (direct release to DSA)