On 7th October the TISPOL European Road Safety Conference took place in Manchester and in his keynote speech, the AA president Edmund King, made clear his position on handling offenders on the road, with a focus on awareness and education over prosecutions. King gave his speech to a full spectrum of European police chiefs and provided clear evidence to back up his claims.
Educating all roads users, including pedestrians, about the risks to their safety whilst on the roads is much more effective than heavy-handed prosecution according to King. He told European police chiefs that the UK is making headway and leading the way for the future, with a clear focus on re-education of riders and drivers with the National Driver Offender Retraining Program.
The most common course that UK offenders find themselves on is ‘speed awareness’ and information from a recent AA Populus Poll, which took into consideration the opinions of 29,660 drivers in the UK, found that 14% of drivers have attended the course in the last three years. If this figure is taken to national scale it equates to around 4.5 million drivers and although the need for a speed awareness course may originally be a speeding offence, the awareness and education it teaches helps drivers to improve in the future.
In his speech King too referred to the speed awareness course, asserting that ‘almost 90% of those that have been on a speed awareness course would recommend it’ and also that through opting for awareness and education training, the UK is producing ‘converts rather than criminals.’
Awareness Campaigns to Protect Vulnerable Road Users
The focus on vulnerable road users remained present at this conference and throughout King’s speech as he noted how educational and awareness campaigns can serve to protect the most vulnerable people on the roads, cyclists and pedestrians.
King asserted that the police are able to identify failure to look properly and loss of control as leading causes for crashes and both of these things are something that can be focused on in retraining programmes or indeed, made relevant to learner drivers with a more comprehensive initial driving test.
Prosecuting those who take risks on the roads is a measure which the police need to consider on a case by case basis and as drivers call for more police on roads, maybe those that are working to improve road safety need to focus on finding ways to raise awareness and educate those driving carelessly or dangerously, with compulsory course attendance or further road safety campaigns like that underway in Scotland.