Fewer driving offenders being taken to task, survey finds

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The total number of magistrates’ court proceedings for motoring offences fell from one million in 2010 to 888,000 in 2011, down 12.6 per cent.

The findings, based on Ministry of Justice figures released in June, also show that the number of people facing prosecution in magistrates’ courts fell from 630,900 in 2010 to 566,800 in 2011, down 10 per cent, according to research by the IAM motoring charity.

Other findings include:

> The number of people facing prosecution for driving offences that resulted in death dropped by 11.5 per cent, from 694 in 2010 to 614 in 2011.

> The number of people facing prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving fell from 282 in 2010 to 201 in 2011, down 28.7 per cent.

> In 2011, 3,200 people were sentenced to immediate custody for summary motoring offences, a fall of 18.8 per cent since 2010.

> Unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle prosecutions were down 10 per cent from 8,049 in 2011 to 7,234 in 2010.

In magistrates’ courts:

> 7,617 faced prosecution in 2011 for failing to stop at an accident, down from 8,531 in 2010 - a fall of 10.5 per cent.

> The number of speeding offences detected by cameras fell by 10 per cent from 70,681 in 2010 to 63,230 in 2011.

> There was an 11.5 per cent fall in the number of people facing prosecution for using a hand held phone. This fell from 40,000 in 2010 to 35,400 in 2011.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “The recession and the expansion of awareness courses for offences like speeding could well be having an impact on these figures - more people are opting for courses rather than points and this improves driving.

“While we fully support increasing and improving courses for some driving offences, we need to know why fewer drivers are being prosecuted for the more serious offences. The government needs to explain the reasons for such a dramatic fall.”