Traffic Law Enforcement Overview

We all have an interest in whether traffic law is appropriate, and that it is appropriately enforced. Everyone uses the roads, and most of us use them in a variety of ways, as drivers, passengers, pedestrians or cyclists and a legal framework is required which allows all road users to coexist safely and efficiently and gives appropriate weight to the desire of users of motorised transport to reach their destination whilst safeguarding the best interests of other road users.

Bad driving is not victimless. In 2018, there were 1,784 reported road deaths., a decrease of only 9 compared with 2017. However, the result of this does not detract from the fact that pedestrians and cyclists are deterred from using streets that are dominated by cars travelling at unsafe speeds. Children have their freedom curtailed, and bad driving makes life more difficult for motorists themselves.

Regardless of the risks of injury, there is ample evidence that traffic would flow more freely if speed limits and road regulations were generally observed.

The following table provides the results of road traffic incidents in Great Britain that were reported to the police for 2017 and 2018.

Year Killed Seriously Injured

Slightly Injured

Casualties - All Severities
















The worst years for recorded accidents and casualties were 1965 and 1966. The fact that casualty figures (some 55 years later) show a marked reduction may be viewed as an improvement, especially considering that the distance travelled by all vehicles today is 4 times greater. However, consider also the reasons why fewer people are injured in Road Traffic Accidents (RTA's) than they were 50 years ago, and it has little to do with improvements in driving standards.

Road casualties have fallen for several reasons, some of which include:

  • Vehicles being far safer and inflicting less damage to the human body due to manufacturers' improvements in internal safety features and external design. Whilst the vehicles may be considered total write-offs in RTA's, the occupant(s) often walks away unscathed;
  • Technical advancements within our hospitals and the medical skills of doctors, nurses and paramedics.
  • The faster response times to RTA's and the 'on the scene' skills of the fire, police and ambulance personnel and volunteer doctors have far-reaching potential benefits to survival rates today.

Smart Motorways

In an effort to save money, the building of so-called 'Smart Motorways’ started. However, having spent billions in tax payer’s money and as a result of the realisation that ‘smart motorways’ can kill, it is likely that work will be stopped. In January 2020, Grant Shapps, UK Secretary of State for Transport put further works on ‘Smart Motorways’ on hold due to increasing deaths; 38 people killed in the last 5 years, and also a 20 fold increase in near misses by vehicles using them.

It is the auditor’s view that a significant increase in traffic police and their visibility would have a more significant impact in road safety on motorways.

To gain a different insight into the views of road safety, see the link below.

To read more on Road Traffic Statistics for 2017 and 2018, select the link to each pdf below.

Road Traffic Statistics 2017 (Dept. for Transport)
Road Traffic Statistics 2018 (Dept. for Transport)