Less Police Means More Traffic Violations, Study Says

In Britain, a 33 percent decrease in police staffing has led to a higher number of traffic violations.

byJustin Hughes| UPDATED Jan 22, 2018 4:50 PM
Less Police Means More Traffic Violations, Study Says

When the police are around, you're more likely to drive within the letter of the law. Conversely, in the absence of police presence, you're more likely to let your speed creep up, or take a glance at that notification that just came in on your phone. With a 33 percent decrease in the number of police officers in Britain in the past ten years, more traffic violations are going unnoticed according to a study of 19,500 drivers by the Automobile Association.

According to the study, the most common offense people felt drivers get away with too often is careless driving, which includes tailgating and lane hogging. Sixty-five percent of respondents agree on this. Other offenses people felt they could get away with include driving a car in an unroadworthy condition at 55 percent, and using a cell phone at 54 percent.

Additionally, 65 percent of motorists felt there was no visible police presence on local roads, and 43 percent said there was no visible presence on highways. Less police mean that people feel emboldened to engage in an unsafe or neglectful behavior because they feel they won't get caught doing it.

Part of the reason for the reduction in police numbers is the proliferation of speed camera across Britain. They don't get paid a salary, are always on duty, and catch nearly all speeders, not just an unlucky few. But speed cameras detect only that—speed. None of the offenses that are believed to be on the increase can be detected or enforced by automatic cameras, such as aggressive or drunk driving. 

The emphasis by British law enforcement on speeding may have led to a reduction of that particular infraction, but seems to have resulted in an increase of other infractions that the motoring public perceives to be an even bigger problem.