Transport Committee emphasises the importance of having traffic police on the streets following fall in detected offences.
Number of motoring offence detected in United Kingdom
The UK motoring offence detection rate fell in recent years alongside the number of specialised road policing officers available to enforce the law, a Transport Committee report claimed.
Detections fell from 4.33 million in 2004 to 1.62 million throughout 2013. However, convictions for the most serious “causing death” type offences “remained steady” at approximately 300 a year.
Further, the report said the number of full time traffic officers in England and Wales fell from 7,104 during 2005, to 4,356 in 2014.
No reduction in offending
The Transport Committee concludes: “The reduction in overall (detected) offences does not represent a reduction in offences actually being committed.”
It adds: “As the number of traffic police has fallen, so too has the number of road traffic offences detected”. It pointed to casualty figures to back-up its conclusion.
The Committee explained: “Although Government figures show a welcome downward trend over the past decade, the most recent figures show a 4% increase (up to 1,775) in road fatalities in 2014” compared to 2013. Furthermore, the number of serious injuries rose 5% in 2014, to 22,807. Slight injuries rose by 6%, to 169,895.
And it seems cyclists proved particularly vulnerable in recent years. 3,514 were killed or seriously injured in 2014, which equated to a 39% rise compared to the 2005 - 2009 average of 2,528.
Education, engineering and enforcement key to road safety
The Chair of the Transport Committee, Louise Ellman MP, said there should be enough traffic police on the beat to protect the public.
She explained: “The Department for Transport says education, engineering and enforcement are key to road safety (but) one cannot exist without the other. The Committee recommends research to determine whether the use of diversionary education courses for poor driving has produced the required deterrent effect”.
“Inappropriate speed was a contributory factor in 16% of fatal collisions. The vast majority of Fixed Penalty Notices issued for exceeding the speed limit are camera-detected but cameras cannot identify whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol or was driving carelessly.”
She continued: “More than a fifth of people seriously injured or killed on our roads in 2014 were not wearing seatbelts. A driver being impaired by alcohol contributed to 8% of all fatal accidents.”
Louise Ellman concluded: “If enforcement of road traffic laws is to be effective, the decline in specialist roads policing officers must be halted. Engineering and education have a role to play, but there must be a real likelihood that offenders will be stopped and prosecuted."