A one-stop-shop for all your scofflaw argument needs.
The aim here is to present various percentage-based statements about who’s breaking which laws on the road (plus who’s indulging in which dangerous behaviours), backed up with references. I’ve tried to include only statistics which are derived from either (a) reasonably convincing research studies, (b) reasonably trustworthy evidence such as conviction rates and police data, or (c) “self-admission” surveys (ie those involving respondents confessing to their own behaviour, which are highly unlikely to overestimate non-compliance) – but, as with all statistics, handle with care. If you have any sense, you should realise that apparently similar phrasing below does not necessarily equate to directly comparable data once you look at the source.
If you know of further sources which can be added, please leave a comment; I’ll check it out, remove the comment, and replace it with an entry if it’s usable. Thanks.
Stopping at junctions
- 14% of drivers jump a red light at least twice a month – Direct Line survey, August 2011
- 10% of cyclists found to jump red lights – Sunday Times operation, November 2013
A note on red light jumping: most statistics do not account for the opportunity to jump lights. Two-wheeled vehicles (bicycles and motorbikes) have much greater opportunity, because they can filter; whilst full-lane-width vehicles must remain behind any which have not jumped the lights.
So, for instance, if 10% of cyclists jump lights when they all have opportunity to do so, then that may reasonably indicate that 10% of cyclists willingly jump lights. And if 14% of drivers admit to willingly jumping lights then, despite fewer drivers being observed jumping lights, this figure is arguably directly comparable with the 10% of observed cyclists, because for the majority of the time the drivers do not have the opportunity.
Hence in the vast majority of cases, where opportunity is not accounted for, the statistics distort the compliance picture in favour of full-width vehicles. For more discussion, see a Response to the IAM and a Response to The LDTA.
Mobile phones and other devices
- Between 21%† and 31%‡ of drivers admit to using a handheld phone while driving (another 17% use hands-free, noted in article to be shown to be more dangerous than drink-driving) – †Direct Line survey, March 2012, ‡RAC Report on Motoring 2013
- 23%† of drivers admit to texting at the wheel, including 44%‡ of young drivers – †RAC Report on Motoring 2012, ‡Direct Line survey, March 2012
- 11% of drivers admit to accessing email or social media while driving – RAC Report on Motoring 2012
- 18% of drivers admit to accessing the internet while driving – IAM survey, July 2015
- 9% of drivers admit to having taken a selfie within the last month while driving – IAM survey, July 2015
- 8% of drivers admit to using video calling while driving – IAM survey, July 2015
- 7% of drivers admit to watching video while driving – IAM survey, July 2015
- 83% of drivers admit to being regular speeders (whilst 92% say they are law-abiding) – RAC Report on Motoring 2012
- 36% of drivers admit to speeding in 20mph zones – RAC Report on Motoring 2013 and RAC Report on Motoring 2012
- 75% of drivers found to exceed the speed limit on one 30mph road – police operation, Cambridge, April 2009
- 46% of drivers admit to speeding in 30mph limits – RAC Report on Motoring 2012
- 63%† of drivers admit to driving at over 35mph in 30mph limits (including 76%‡ of “at-work” drivers) – †Direct Line survey, September 2013, ‡Direct Line survey, January 2013
- 37% of drivers admit to speeding in 50mph and 60mph limits – RAC Report on Motoring 2012
- 65% of drivers admit to breaking the speed limit on motorways – RAC Report on Motoring 2013
- 61% of drivers admit to driving at over 80mph on motorways – Direct Line survey, October 2010
Drink and drugs
- 7% of drivers admit to having driven whilst knowing or suspecting they were over the drink driving limit – RAC Report on Motoring 2012
Other unsafe behaviours
- 49% of drivers admit to flouting road laws (40% of women and 58% of men) of whom “half did so deliberately because they thought they could get away with it or did not agree with the laws” – Brake/Direct Line survey, April 2015
- 35% of drivers admit to continuing to drive when feeling sleepy – Direct Line survey, July 2013
- a group of drivers failed to see 22% of cyclists and 15% of motorcyclists who were “in clear view” (for cyclists: 30% in London, and 26% for female drivers) – Direct Line research study, April 2013
- 53% of drivers admit to driving within two seconds of the vehicle in front on motorways – Direct Line survey, March 2012
- 24% of drivers admit to adjusting their satnav whilst driving (including 51% of company car drivers) – RAC Report on Mororing 2013
Licensing, insurance and taxation
- 0.6% of vehicles on the road are illegally untaxed – DfT, December 2013
Commercial and corporate vehicles
- Between 80%† and 100%‡ of HGVs found to be breaking at least one law – †police operation, North Wales, February 2013, ‡police operation, London, September 2008
- 70% of HGVs found to be defective and/or illegally operated – Metropolitan Police records, January-November 2013
- 89% of LGVs found to be overloaded in DVSA inspections – DVSA chief executive
- 56% of LGVs found to be in poor mechanical condition in DVSA inspections – DVSA chief executive
Data from the following sources have not been included because they are considered to be of particularly low quality; generally either highly distorted sample sets or partisan summaries of opaque data.
- IAM survey, May 2012 – for reasons explained by Peter Walker.
Thanks to the following for contributing links: Solihull Cyclist.