AA road safety report

AA members' views on the road safety strategy

The AA is offering 2000 free 'drive smart' eco-safe driver training  packages

The AA/Populus panel is the biggest barometer of motoring opinion with some 75,000 AA members signed up to give their views.

These drivers are approached every month for their views on a wide range of motoring issues – in the region of 10,000 to 20,000 respond each month.

On the day that the government's consultation on the road safety strategy for the next 20 years closes, the AA has published a compilation of the views of the AA/Populus panel on a wide range of road safety issues.


"The panel broadly agrees with the government's approach" says AA President Edmund King "although there are strong messages about the need for tougher drink drive laws and for more to be done about drug driving, with more than 70 per cent supporting each.

"Many responses to this consultation will be from experts, or from pressure groups" King continues. "we hope the government will also pay attention to the views of drivers and other road users, as laid out in this summary and our submission."

Opinions of the AA/Populus panel

The main results1 from recent AA/Populus studies on safety topics are below:

Target to reduce road deaths

The latest data shows mixed views on the road safety strategy's proposed target to reduce road deaths.

A quarter think the proposed target is over ambitious, just over a sixth think it is under ambitious and 38% say the target is about right (results detailed below):

Setting a target to reduce Britain's 3000 road deaths per year to 2000 by 2020 is:

About right – 38%
Over ambitious – 25% (30% male but only 18% female)
Under ambitious – 21%
Don't know – 16%

Regulation of drivers and driving

To meet the new target there may be a need for further regulations on drivers and driving. Drivers in Wales (59%), Scotland (60%) and Northern Ireland (64%) appear most amenable to further restrictions.

How would you feel if tighter regulations were imposed on road users in order to achieve the government's road safety target?

Somewhat happy – 31%
Very happy – 27%
Neither happy or unhappy – 17%
Somewhat unhappy – 14%
Very unhappy – 10%

Speed limits

Speed limits evoke much debate and the issue is a very complicated one and may not be as straightforward as it seems to some.

Today's speed limits vary enormously as a result of allowing limits to be set locally. Some drivers are confused by the wide variation and also some lack knowledge of the national speed limits on certain types of road.

Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) is being actively promoted by some but is controversial, especially if any system is introduced compulsorily and intervention with the vehicle is not optional for the driver.

The motorway speed limit should be raised to 80mph but enforced

Agree – 81%
Disagree – 11%

Exceeding the speed limit by a large margin (i.e. 45 in a 30mph limit) should be punished by six penalty points

Agree – 67%
Disagree – 24%

The most appropriate national speed limit for a single carriageway 'A' road in a rural area is (accepting that in particular places on this road, such as villages, a different (lower) limit may be set):

40mph – 17%
50 mph – 30%
60 mph – 45%
70 mph – 6%
(47% believe it should be lower, 51% the same or higher)

Increasing the number of 20mph zones is a good way to reduce pedestrian casualties?

Agree – 44%
Disagree – 32%

Cars should be compulsorily fitted with devices which will stop them exceeding the speed limit at any time

Agree – 43%
Disagree – 39%

Drink driving

Britain has made great strides in bringing down the level of drink driving but a hard core of persistent offenders remain and Britain's drink drive alcohol limit is the highest in Europe.

Although there is huge support for reducing the limit a reduction would bring 'morning after effects' that would need managing so that drivers knew they were at risk.

The drink drive limit should be lowered

In favour – 66%
Opposed – 20%

The police should be allowed to breathalyse a driver at any time

In favour – 79%
Opposed – 16%

Which of the changes listed below is most likely to make our road safer?

More cameras – 2%
More traffic police – 27%
Road and junction improvements to remove accident black spots – 70%

Mobile phones

Despite the introduction of a tougher fine plus penalty points, drivers talking on a mobile phone still irritates other drivers and in extreme cases has caused fatalities.

High profile people have been prosecuted and this has increased awareness of the problem. A recent TRL study found that there were 1.1 offenders in every 100 in 2008 a rise from the 2007 figure despite the new penalties. The AA has tracked attitudes.

Using a mobile phone while driving is more serious, as serious or less serious than:

More serious – 32%
As serious – 60%
Less serious – 6%

Drink or drug driving
More serious – 6%
As serious – 52%
Less serious – 31%

Poor Parking
More serious – 68%
As serious – 9%
Less serious – 23%

Drug driving

Drug driving is becoming a major concern and the problem is even more difficult to manage than that of drink driving with medicinal drugs as well as illegal ones plus the difficulty of gauging the level in a driver's body, the impact the drug has on driving and the difficulty of making a successful prosecution.

A driver should be prosecuted for drug driving if there are traces of illegal drugs in his/her body but is not visibly or practically impaired by the drug

Yes – 72%

A driver should be prosecuted for drug driving if there are traces of illegal drugs in his/her body and is visibly and practically impaired by the drug

Yes – 100%

New drivers

In their first year of driving 23% of drivers who pass their test aged between 17-19 have been involved in a crash.

New drivers are adequately prepared to drive on the roads after passing their tests

Agree – 17%
Disagree – 66%

The first target for the newly formed AA Charitable Trust for Road Safety and the Environment is new drivers "most at risk" – those who have passed their test in the last 12 months and have had an accident or points on their licence.

Two thousand totally free 'Drive Smart' eco-safe driver training packages (2 one-hour sessions with a fully-qualified AA driving instructor) are being offered to this group, some in joint schemes with police forces.

The course is designed specifically for the Charity to improve new drivers' safety and environmental performance.

Join the discussion in the AA zone


1The AA/Populus panel results have been gathered from panel questions asked over the past year. In many cases some categories of answer have been aggregated – for example we may have asked whether members strongly agree, agree, neither agree or disagree, disagree, strongly disagree or don't know. Their answers have been grouped as "agree" or "disagree", with the remainder being either "don't know" or "neither agree or disagree".

13 July 2009