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98% fear UK road safety not improving

Thu, 29 Aug 2013 00:00:00 -0700

Research conducted for the latest issue of the Auto Trader Owner’s Guide suggests that a staggering 98% of British motorists fear that the government is failing to improve safety on UK roads.

Of the 3,000 drivers surveyed for the quarterly publication, 77% also want theory and practical driving skills to be taught in schools, while 60% are convinced the coming fixed penalty fines for careless driving will do nothing to benefit safety.

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Going further, 81% felt the ever increasing rise of in-car gadgetry, including the ability to make hands-free phone calls and check social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, represents a “hazardous distraction” to drivers.

In better news, however, the data also reveals that 55% would be prepared to spend more on a car with the latest safety features.

81% of those who agreed said they would spend up to £2,000 more – potentially injecting an additional £26 billion into the car market, according to Auto Trader (based on the current 28.8 million cars licenced for road use by the DVLA).

Overall, 88% of the drivers questioned listed safety as one of the most important considerations when buying a car.

Interestingly, those aged 17-24 rated “advanced safety technologies” more important than 55-64 year olds (68% versus 41%) – but then, young people are statistically far more likely to be involved in a crash.

Whether those same people know what all the latest safety features do, is another matter entirely. Only 41% of 17-24-year-olds surveyed understood the skid preventing function of stability control, for example.

The fascinating stats continue with the news that 51% of motorists feel HGVs are the “biggest safety threat on UK roads”. The next biggest threats are motorcycles (15%) and then, amazingly, bicycles (14%). SUVs attracted 10% of the vote.

To make lorries safer, 55% would limited the weight they can carry in built-up areas, 51% would restrict them to off-peak driving hours, and 51% would argue for special mirrors to be retro-fitted to improve driver visibility.

Speaking of built-up areas, only 26% felt that speed limits should be reduced to 20mph in residential streets. But 60% agreed that motorists who commit multiple speeding offences should be forced to drive speed-restricted cars.

This is all despite the reality that our roads are much safer than they used to be – fatalities and serious injuries are half the number they were 15 years ago.

Auto Trader also asked the Great British motoring public which car brands they considered the safest. No surprise to discover that Volvo came out on top, with 32% of respondents choosing the Swedish marque.

But this was nearly double the next best, Mercedes-Benz, which received 17% in spite of those early A-Class moose-test issues; in turn, this was nearly double BMW in third with 9%. Volkswagen and Audi came in joint fourth, with 6%.

Renault was nowhere, despite leading the Euro NCAP charge in the early 2000s.

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