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HUGE CONCERNS: Drivers checking social media is the biggest single perceived road threat

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A survey which examined the attitudes and concerns of UK drivers, has found that for the third year running their biggest worries are people updating social media or sending text messages while driving, drink or drug driving and mobile phone use.

Drivers checking social media is the biggest single perceived threat that road users feel – slightly higher than those who text and email, and closely followed by drink and drug drivers.

The survey of more than 2,000 motorists found that more than 90% of those surveyed thought that the dangers caused by people accessing social media or email messages while driving was a significant threat to their personal safety and that the problem is increasing, with 80% believing the problem more significant than three years ago.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs also remains an issue, with 90% of drivers surveyed identifying this as a serious safety problem. And while around half of the drivers surveyed believe the dangers posed by drink-driving have remained the same over time, the problem of people driving under the influence of drugs is increasing, with 64% identifying this as more significant over the last three years.

Other key risks to personal safety on the road identified in the survey include talking on mobile phones (89%), speeding on residential streets (87%), drivers ignoring red lights (87%) and tired drivers (86%). Aggression behind the wheel was also identified as a problem, with 75% of those surveyed believing this a danger to their personal safety.

When asked about their own driving habits, about one in three (30%) said they drove slower than others on the road, while just over half (55%) said they drove at the same speed as others around them, with only one in seven willing to admit to going faster than everyone else.

The IAM RoadSmart survey also found there is little tolerance for breaking motoring laws; 50% of drivers feel it is unacceptable to drive 10mph higher than the speed limit on a motorway. This figure falls substantially for other forms of speeding such as driving at 5mph more than the limit on a residential road (76% unacceptable), and driving at 5mph greater than the limit near a school (90% unacceptable).

While 45% thought it was acceptable to drive using a hands-free phone, that figure drops to just 9% when it comes to a hand-held one.

The least accepted actions surveyed were driving when the motorist thought they had too much to drink (6%) and driving after using marijuana (7%).

When it comes to which motoring transgressions those surveyed had committed themselves, speeding was the one most admitted to. Some 16% said they regularly or often drove 10mph more than the limit on the motorway, while 14% said they drove 5mph more than the limit regularly or often on a residential street.

There is also widespread support for tough laws against many motoring offences. Some 96% strongly support laws against reading, typing, or sending a text message or email while driving, while 95% strongly support the law against using a handheld mobile phone while driving.

Meanwhile 93% strongly supported a law requiring all drivers age 85 and older to pass a simple screening test and 91% strongly supported a law requiring all drivers age 75 and older to provide an eye test certificate.

Officer dismissed for drink driving offence

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A Hillingdon officer has been dismissed from the Met without notice having previously admitted drink driving.

PC Aneel Achall attended a misconduct hearing on Monday, 16th October to answer allegations his conduct breached the Met’s standards of professional behaviour in respect of ‘discredible conduct’.

On Saturday, 7th January whilst off duty, PC Achall was driving his own car in Ryefield Avenue, Hillingdon. He reversed onto the pavement at speed and narrowly avoided hitting a pedestrian before colliding with a parked van, causing damage. He failed to stop after the collision and drove off.

He parked nearby and was detained by members of the public who called police.

At the roadside he tested positive for alcohol during a breath test and was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving.

A second breath test in custody showed a reading of 137 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35.

On Wednesday, 19th July at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court, PC Achall pleaded guilty to driving a motor vehicle on a road after consuming alcohol that exceeded the prescribed limit.

He was sentenced to 14 weeks' imprisonment suspended for 18 months, a four-month curfew requirement with electronic monitoring, 100 hours unpaid work, £85 costs and £115 victim surcharge.

Having heard all the evidence, the chair of the misconduct hearing Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball found gross misconduct proven and PC Achall was dismissed without notice.