Comment: ‘Tackling bad driving has to be positive’

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of all the changes introduced by Police Scotland, the crackdown on bad driving will be the most warmly welcomed.

It is true that Britain has one of the best road safety records not only in Europe but anywhere in the world. Despite massive increases in traffic, the number of people killed on UK roads has fallen dramatically over the last 30 years. Whereas there were around 5,500 road deaths a year in the mid-1980s, today there are less than 1800.

There are various reasons for that, including changing social attitudes to drink driving, stricter seat belt laws and improved safety features commonly installed by car makers such as air bags.

Yet, five people a day are still dying on our roads - which is surely far too many.

Repeated studies have shown that by far the biggest cause of road accidents is driver error. That includes speeding (a factor in around a quarter of fatal accidents), drink driving (around a fifth) and drivers simply “failing to look properly” (a cause of a staggering 40 per cent of raod accidents).

The Police Scotland crackdown has focused on our trunk roads where the majority of the most serious accidents take place. This does not look like the results of speed traps simply set up to catch the highest possible number of drivers in order to hit targets.

There has been a dramatic rise in the number of people being pulled over for careless driving and other offences which are only detected by officers being out on the road with their eyes peeled.

There remain widespread concerns about some of the changes introduced by Police Scotland, as you can read elsewhere on this page. One of the biggest remains the lack of transparency behind the change in approach to policing of the city’s saunas.

But getting officers out on the road to tackle bad driving has to be a positive step for policing in Edinburgh.