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3 in 4 Welsh drivers believe they should be excused from ‘minor’ motoring offences

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Brits think they have a good excuse to be let off certain car crimes and many are unaware of the offences they are committing.

As motorists return to the roads after lockdown, research by Tempcover has revealed that drivers in Wales are much more likely to admit to committing the following ‘minor’ car crimes: deliberately splashing a pedestrian on the pavement (26% compared to the 7% regional average), throwing litter from their car (28% compared to the 11% regional average), warning another driver about upcoming speed traps (42% compared to 29% regional average) and driving without wearing a seatbelt (23% compared to 10% regional average).

The survey also revealed that many Brits who admitted to committing the following offences, were unaware that their careless actions could land them in trouble with the law: deliberately splashing pedestrians on pavements (71%), warning other drivers about speed traps (64%), handling a sat-nav whilst driving (59%), sounding a car horn whilst stationary or between 11.30am and 7pm (51%), smoking with passengers under 18 (49%), driving a friend or relative’s car without being sure you have the correct insurance (40%).

Minor offences that can lead to a dangerous driving prosecution

With the expected staycation boom, Tempcover’s research also found that Welsh drivers were unaware the following actions could lead to prosecution if they are deemed to have caused dangerous driving: driving in inappropriate footwear such as flip flops or even barefoot (47% compared to the 35% regional average), smoking or vaping at the wheel (51% compared to 32% regional average), eating or drinking at the wheel (59% compared to 42% regional average) and driving whilst wearing headphones (51% compared to the 34% regional average).

Despite the first mobile phone driving laws being introduced 18 years ago, 42% of drivers in Wales also admitted to handling their phone whilst driving compared to the 24% regional average. Regulations around mobile phone usage were tightened even further in April 2021 with a new law seeing drivers face six penalty points and a fine for touching their mobile phone for any reason while driving, closing a loophole that previously allowed motorists to take photos or videos at the wheel.

Over half of people surveyed (51%) didn’t know it was illegal to sound a car horn whilst stationary or between 11.30am and 7pm (Image: YouTube)

Road Safety Trust CEO Sally Lines said: “Whilst drivers might think that using their mobile phone, sat-nav or eating and drinking behind the wheel are minor incidents it distracts them from the task at hand which is driving and could cause an accident. If you feel distracted when driving, you should pull over to a safe place for a couple of minutes and only proceed when you feel it is safe to do so. You may not only avoid a fine or conviction you could also save a life.”

The risks of invalidating an insurance policy

Tempcover’s research also found that many Welsh motorists are driving without the right insurance with 38% admitting to test driving a car when making a private purchase without knowing if they have the correct driveaway insurance compared to the 20% regional average. Surprisingly, 60% of those in Wales who admitted to this were unaware they were committing a crime. On top of this, 34% admitted to driving a relative or friends car without knowing they have the correct insurance compared to the 18% regional average.

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Many Welsh motorists were also unaware that listing the following information incorrectly on their insurance applications could be classed as fraud and invalidate their claim: listing the incorrect location of the vehicle overnight (30% compared to the 14% regional average), underestimating annual mileage (36% compared to the 26% regional average, listing the incorrect occupation (36% compared to the 20% regional average).

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Differing views on leniency

In addition to being unfamiliar with these road offences, the survey also revealed that an overwhelming number of Welsh drivers (77%) believe they shouldn’t be charged for driving offences in cases where: they had a legitimate excuse (25%), they weren’t aware something was illegal (19%), there was no obvious signage to indicate something is illegal (15%), there should be a grace period from when new laws are introduced (9%), and it wasn’t covered in theory test (9%).

While many drivers expect to get away with committing these ‘minor’ offences, thousands are prosecuted every year for doing so. In 2019, 12,347 UK drivers were charged for careless driving offences, including unnecessarily slow driving or becoming distracted at the wheel by tasks such as eating and drinking. A further 11,402 were charged for using their mobile phone at the wheel in 2019, an offence which includes making a phone call, sending a text, accessing the internet or following a map with a hand-held mobile whilst on the road.

Over 11,000 people were charged with using a handheld mobile device at the wheel in 2019

Tempcover CEO Alan Inskip says: “We’ve found that many Brits are still unaware their everyday actions can land them in trouble and that, shockingly, the majority think they should be excused for breaking the law. Regardless of how menial the offences may seem to be, they are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and their passengers. The reality is that breaching even the inconspicuous rules could see drivers face hefty fines and points on their license. These infringements could also potentially invalidate their claims, increasing the cost of insurance and making it difficult to find an insurer to cover them at all.”

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Education

“Stuck in a catch-22”: parents drive their children to school because they are concerned about traffic

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New polling data released for Living Streets’ Walk to School Week (16-20 May 2022) finds that traffic is one of the biggest barriers to children walking to school, with 17 per cent of parents in Wales naming it as a reason their child doesn’t walk.

With over 460,000 pupils in Wales, it would mean tens of thousands of them are being denied the physical and social health benefits of being more active.

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Schools being too far away from home (18%) and cars parked on pavements (17%) were also barriers for Welsh parents.

The latest data suggests just 50 per cent of primary school aged children in Wales walk to school.

Stephen Edwards, Chief Executive, Living Streets said: “We’re stuck in a catch-22 where families see driving to school as the safest way to protect their children from traffic.

“Leaving the car at home will reduce chaos and road danger around the school gates. It’s also a great way for children to learn about road safety in a real life setting and build their confidence in managing risk.

“Walk to School Week is an excellent opportunity for families to give walking to school a go and reap the health and social benefits of moving more.”

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Living Streets works with schools, local authorities and parent groups to help improve the walk to school.

Stephen Edwards continues: “We want to enable as well as encourage more families to walk to school. We’re here to help parents who are worried about safety around their child’s school. Car-free zones, 20mph limits and better crossings can all help make the walk to school safer and we’re here to help people campaign for them in their area.”

For more information on Living Streets’ walk to school campaign, visit livingstreets.org.uk/WalkToSchool

(Lead image: Shutterstock)

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Dyfed Powys Police

Man banned from driving for 12 months for fishing offence

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A man from Merthyr Tydfil who travelled to the River Loughor, near Llanelli to fish using a barbaric and illegal method, has been banned from driving for 12 months as part of his sentence.

Vu Quang Tien pleaded guilty to an illegal fishing charge and also to a charge of obstruction of a Natural Resources Wales (NRW) Fisheries Enforcement Officer on 26 April at Swansea Magistrates Court.

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Mr Tien and two other anglers were witnessed by NRW Fisheries Enforcement Officers deliberately using the illegal foul hooking method of fishing – also known as snatching – at the river Loughor on 15 August 2021. NRW officers attended the site after several reports of illegal fishing were made to NRW’s 24/7 incident call centre by concerned members of the community.

When approached and questioned by NRW officers, Mr Tien and his accomplices showed significant hostility and reluctance to share identification documents which eventually had to be extracted by use of reasonable force.

All of Mr Tien’s fishing tackle and fish, along with his associates’ fishing tackle was seized by NRW Officers at the time of the incident. The district judge on the day at Swansea Magistrates Court gave permission to NRW to confiscate these items permanently from each of them.

The District Judge disqualified Mr Tien from driving for 12 months due to seriousness of the incident, and the premeditated and deliberate action of travelling such a distance to commit the offence.

He was also ordered to pay a total of £2,334 in fines, NRW costs and a victim surcharge.

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Mark Thomas, Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “We would like to again thank Dyfed Powys Police, the local communities and also the law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities.

“Foul hooking is a truly barbaric form of fishing carried out by a small minority of anglers in Wales, who have no regard for fish welfare.

“NRW and the Police take these incidents seriously as do the courts.

“Hopefully, the small minority of anglers who may in future, think of using any illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines and driving ban in this case issued by the courts.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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Motoring

Revealed: Swansea is one of the UK’s worst cities for road rage – although not as bad as Cardiff

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Swansea has been revealed as the 9th worst place in England and Wales for road rage according to new research.

The city saw 51 instances of recorded road rage in the last year.

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The Road Rage Index, was compiled by specialist car group Motorfinity, which sent Freedom of Information requests to police forces across the country.

Drivers in Swansea also had 15 cases of dangerous driving.

Cardiff topped the list, with 301 instances of drivers ranting at other road users in the city, followed by Leicester at 291.

A combined figure of 240 incidents puts Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton in third place.

Meanwhile, both Lancaster and Preston had 191 reports of road rage between them that attracted the attention of police, while Leeds had 108.

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Police forces for Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, and Lancaster and Preston were only able to provide the data when grouped with the other cities.

With 32 million motorists vying for space on British roads, it’s little surprise that things get heated. In fact, it’s claimed that more than half of the UK’s drivers admit to sometimes suffering from road rage whilst they’re driving.

Top 10 cities with the most road rage incidents

CityRoad rage incidents in 2021
1Cardiff301
2Leicester291
3Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton (combined)240
4Lancaster and Preston (combined)191
5Leeds108
6Sheffield79
7Bradford68
8Derby51
9Swansea51
10Hull49

As part of the research, Motorfinity also asked police forces for the number of counts of dangerous driving incidents, of which the city of Oxford came first with 480 counts, followed by 363 for Bradford.

Top five cities with the most dangerous driving incidents

CityDangerous driving incidents in 2021
1Oxford480
2Bradford363
3Leeds321
4Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton (combined)178
5Newport121

Motorfinity CEO Daniel Briggs believes that, although all the top 10 cities in the list are very busy urban areas, it doesn’t necessarily follow that more motorists means more anger.

He said: “The fact that the top few cities have so many more incidents than others suggests that drivers there may unknowingly copy each other’s bad behaviour. These results show that there are some clear hotspots when it comes to angry or impatient drivers.

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“It’s never ideal to be on the receiving end of road rage, but it’s also pretty unpleasant to be a regularly angry driver. Motoring should be an enjoyable experience, or at least one that people don’t dread.

“Given that road rage is generally considered commonplace, it’s likely that someone experiencing it has also been on the receiving end of another driver’s anger at some point. So, it’s worth remembering that a car door probably doesn’t insulate your emotions as much as you first think.”

It has been previously said that more than half of the UK’s drivers admit to regularly being angry at other motorists while they’re driving.

(Lead image: iStock)

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