The easing of lockdown conditions has revealed a rise in dangerous and discourteous driving behaviour – putting drivers and fleets at higher risk as they head back out on the roads.
Reports of “extreme” speeding and other risky practices surged during lockdown and the new research by Venson Automotive Solutions indicates bad behaviour is continuing.
While speeding is already the UK’s top driving offence, a survey by the fleet management firm revealed 55% of respondents believed it has increased. That’s despite a new speed enforcement operation launched by the National Police Chiefs’ Council in May to counter the increase in speeding and general bad driving during the lockdown.
As well as speeding, the Venson survey brought to light an increase in other discourteous and potentially dangerous habits. A reduction in use of indicators by other vehicle drivers was mentioned by 41% of people surveyed, 38% pointed out an increase in drivers not adhering to recommended distances between cars on motorways and 31% commented on general erratic driving behaviour.
And 35% of people said that they believed that generally all road users – including cars, vans and bicycles had become more discourteous.
Simon Staton, client management director at Venson, commented: “When there was less traffic on the road during lockdown, other drivers took the opportunity to be ‘king of the road’ with less thought for fellow road users. Now, with traffic on the roads getting back to pre-Covid-19 levels, motorists need to be more vigilant so that inconsiderate driving behaviours don’t cause incidents that result in inconvenience or worse, for other drivers.”
Staton also warned of the risks to both the individual and the company for those business drivers found guilty themselves of bad behaviour.
“For company car or van drivers, penalty points and the possibility of losing their licence is serious enough but if a vehicle is being driven erratically or dangerously and is displaying the organisation’s logo or name, it can have an immediate impact on the perception of that business by other road users and pedestrians. Fleet managers need to ensure that there is adequate driver training and support for employees who drive company vehicles, with clear guidelines to make certain that drivers have enough time to complete their journeys safely.”
It’s the latest warning for fleets to be on their guard against drivers oblivious of the risks of dangerous driving. VisionTrack warned three months ago that fleet and commercial drivers were among the main culprits of the increased levels of speeding seen during lockdown, leading to increased calls for businesses to take action.
Backing the motoring research and police figures on drivers flouting the limit, the figures showed commercial drivers have been included in those speeding during the lockdown, with overall incidents increasing by 2.61% in April despite a 22.6% reduction in the number of miles driven.
Road safety specialist IAM RoadSmart has also warned that driver distraction due to mobile phone use could escalate as lockdown restrictions ease; the result of good behaviour habits being lost during the coronavirus pandemic. The charity has expressed concerns that phone-loving drivers could ignore driving safety legislation and continue to use their devices when they get back behind the wheel.
There are also worries about a rise in drink-driving. TTC Group has warned all road users of a ‘critical mix of events’ which it fears could see an increase in drink driving cases during the current UK holiday season. This includes increased ‘staycations’ and continued public transport restrictions.