77 per cent of UK support automatic driving ban for drivers who cause serious injury

Car driving in a 20mph area
An exclusive poll carried out for Cycling UK ahead of Road Safety Week (19 – 25 November) has revealed most people support an automatic ban for drivers convicted of causing death or serious injury.
  • Cycling UK commissioned YouGov poll finds UK strongly supports automatic driving bans for drivers convicted for causing serious injury or death on the road.
  • 83 per cent also support additional testing for people convicted of causing serious injury before they’re allowed back on the roads
  • Currently 17 per cent of people convicted for causing serious injury by dangerous driving allowed to continue driving (source: Ministry of Justice)

In cases where drivers are convicted of causing serious injury, 77 per cent of respondents said they should face an automatic minimum ban, and 83 per cent said they should be automatically banned if they’d killed someone.

Currently, driving bans are supposed to be imposed automatically for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving.

But Ministry of Justice figures from 2017 show that 61 drivers convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving escaped a direct ban, while 28 convicted of causing death by careless driving were not directly disqualified.

Public opinion also shows a consensus on the need for people to prove they are safe to drive through an additional driver test when there has been serious injury or a fatality. 83 per cent of people polled said retesting should happen where there was serious injury and 86 per cent where there was a fatality. Retesting is only mandatory for convictions related to dangerous driving.

It’s clear the public believe that drivers who have presented the most danger to others should be removed from our roads, but they’re less clear about what amounts to risky behaviour.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK's head of campaigns

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said:

“It’s clear the public believe that drivers who have presented the most danger to others should be removed from our roads, but they’re less clear about what amounts to risky behaviour.

“Whilst 91% of respondents with a full driving license thought they were ‘competent and careful’ drivers, over half of them admitted to speeding on roads with 30 mph limits and 20mph limits, the latter usually being imposed around schools, hospitals and where our children walk and play.

“If so many people are unable to recognise that speeding in such areas presents risks, and that they’re not driving carefully and competently when doing so, it’s no surprise that our laws around careless and dangerous driving are in such a mess.

“Those laws are based on the standard of the careful and competent driver. However in court, this standard is based on the subjective views of what jurors see as acceptable driving behaviour, not on what is actually safe. We need to review our road traffic laws so there’s a clearer objective standard for the driving we expect on our roads, otherwise what’s judged to be careless or dangerous driving will remain a lottery.”  

The poll also asked whether participants considered themselves a “careful and competent driver” – the standard for which careless and dangerous driving is legally considered to fall below.

91 per cent of respondents with a driving license classified themselves as “careful and competent”. Of these, 52 per cent said they have driven over the 20mph speed limit, and 57 per cent over the 30mph limit. 58 per cent also admitted to speeding through an amber light turning to red.

Overwhelmingly, drink and drug driving are seen as socially unacceptable, with 94 per cent of people who agree that they are competent drivers declaring they have never  driven under the influence. 84 per cent of UK drivers also said they never used a handheld mobile phone while driving, though 4 per cent of people who classified themselves as careful and competent admitted said they did this more than once a day.

Mr Dollimore said:

“As we head in to Road Safety Week 2018, now is the time to focus on the solutions to make our roads safer for everyone. The Government has one of the answers: a wide review of road traffic offences and penalties announced in May 2014. Since then little has been done, which is why this week Cycling UK hopes they will finally take road danger seriously and make good on this promise and begin the review.”

Joshua Harris Director of Campaigns at Brake, the road safety charity said:

“Our road laws must do all they can to protect us from unsafe drivers, but flaws in the current framework limit this ability. A review of road traffic offences and penalties is needed to regain the public’s trust and to ensure that just and fair outcomes are consistently delivered.”

Cycling UK and Brake have secured a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, 20 November on road justice. Ask your MP to attend and speak up, by sending them our pre-prepared letter

Notes to editors

  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2123 adults, of which 1585 are drivers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th - 14th November 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
  3. Definitions of careless and dangerous driving



Maximum penalty

Causing death by CARELESS driving

(Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 3ZA, as amended by the Road Safety Act 2006)

The driving

“… falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.”


Five years in prison

Causing death by DANGEROUS driving


(Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 2A, as amended by the Road Traffic Act 1991)

The driving

“… falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.”

“[…] “dangerous” refers to danger either of injury to any person or of serious damage to property;”

Fourteen years in prison

  1. Convictions for causing serious injury by dangerous driving, 2017 (source: MoJ):
    1. 367 people found guilty
    2. 61 no direct disqualification
    3. 306 offenders directly disqualified, of which:
      1. 201 until driving test passed (=55% of the people found guilty)
      2. 105 for 1 year plus (= 29% of the people found guilty)
  2. Convictions for causing death by careless driving, 2017 (source: MoJ)
    1. 189 people found guilty
    2. 28 no direct disqualification
    3. 52 disqualified until driving test passed,
    4. 2 disqualified for under 1 year,
    5. 28 disqualified for 1 year

Press contact information

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org