Roadside litter

AA says get rid of drive-by litter louts before the 2012 Games

12 March 2012

Roadside litter will give Olympic tourists a bad impression of Britain

Roadside litter will give Olympic tourists a bad impression of Britain

Roadside litter will give Olympic tourists a bad impression of Britain, according to 94% of AA members in an AA/Populus poll of 8,800 drivers.

AA President, Edmund King, attended a Government Roundtable litter summit in March where Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, also called for litter action prior to the Games.  AA Streetwatch volunteers and staff will conduct a 'big litter pick' before the games.

The spring and summer holiday usually brings with it an increase in roadside litter – often thrown from cars.  The Highways Agency is responsible for trunk roads and motorways which see the equivalent of 700,000 bags of rubbish being dumped each year.  More than £880 million is spent on clearing litter from local streets each year.

A previous poll from Keep Britain Tidy claimed that an astonishing 35% admitted to dropping litter from their vehicle on that day alone and 42% in the past week.  The most likely culprit would be a male smoker aged under 25 with low educational attainment.  Sixty seven per cent of commercial vehicle drivers had littered in the last week, according to this survey.

London is soon to introduce legislation that would enable boroughs to issue penalty notices against the registered keepers of vehicles from which litter is thrown.  If the pilot is successful these powers could be extended elsewhere, according to the Environment Secretary.

Under current legislation, individuals can be issued with a £50-£80 fixed penalty or be fined up to £2,500.

litter strewn highways and byways will give tourists a bad impression at the Games so we are pleading with all drivers to stop their drive-by tossing

Edmund King, AA president

Commenting, Edmund King, AA President, said: “Drivers agree that our litter strewn highways and byways will give tourists a bad impression at the Games so we are pleading with all drivers to stop their drive-by tossing.  Drive-by litter louts deserve to be targeted and fined.

" Four fifths of AA members claim to be angry at roadside littering but most are adamant they are not the cause of litter themselves – with only 8% admitting 'litter guilt'. Whoever is to blame there is no excuse for being a roadside 'litter lout' whose actions can cause a danger to other road users and also to those who have to clear up after them.

“AA Streetwatch volunteers and staff will be conducting The AA Streetwatch big litter pick collection in May to help clear up our streets.”

Volunteers can register their interest in helping with AA Streetwatch The big litter pick to be run from 12 May to 25 May at www.aastreetwatch.com

AA/Populus survey results

The results show that:

  • 61% of drivers loathe motoring 'litter louts' enough to support tough penalties, such as points on their driving licence, large fines and   community sentences
  • 94% agreed that roadside litter gives a bad impression of Britain and spoils local communities
  • 75% say that roadside littering is a serious problem
  • 76% thought that government campaigns should be carried out to address the problem
  • Of the 8% who admitted being responsible for litter themselves almost two thirds more of those aged between 18 and 24 admitted this compared to those aged over 65

For the Highways Agency, litter is not only unsightly but also a threat to the environment.  Clearing rubbish puts road workers at risk of injury and diverts resources away from road maintenance and repairs.

The AA's anti litter tips

  • Remember that in many places litter bins have been removed or may be full so do not expect them wherever you go
  • Carry a litter bag in your vehicle to collect rubbish until it can be safely disposed of
  • Do not discard cigarettes and take extra care not to discard lit cigarettes as they can start fires and possibly injure other roads users – this is an offence
  • Drink cans and bottles can be dangerous if allowed to roll around in the car's driver foot well potentially impeding safe control of the vehicle
  • CCTV is used extensively these days so the casual tipping out of an ashtray in a car park may be enough to lead to a fixed penalty by the authorities tracing you through your car's number plate

(updated 13 April 2012)

AA Streetwatch “The AA Big Litter Pick” 12 May – 25 May 2012. Volunteers can register at  www.aastreetwatch.com

AA supports the Keep Britain Tidy “Love Where You Live” campaign