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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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We catch drivers running red lights in Carlisle

It’s enough to make even the most patient motorist see red. But jumping traffic lights after they’ve turned red is just one of a number of bad habits demonstrated by drivers on Cumbria’s roads every day, those in the know say.

Traffic lights photo

Not only is it bad practice but these habits also account for many accidents and injuries.

And to make matters worse it seems many of us are at it at some time or another.

To demonstrate the point, we observed drivers going through traffic lights at three random locations in Carlisle.

We trained our eagle eyes on the lights as they changed from green to red on 10 separate occasions at each location.

The first was at the junction of Tait Street onto Botchergate in the city centre where we observed four drivers go through red lights.

At the second, between Dunmail Drive and Wigton Road, again we saw four motorists ignore the lights turning red and continue on their merry way through.

And the final location, at the junction of Junction Street and Dalston Road, six drivers jumped reds, including two who went through the same light.

Tailgating and failing to indicate are the most despised driving habits among road users in the UK, according to a recent survey.

David Williams of recovery specialists GEM Motoring Assist, which carried out the study, says: “Without enough traffic police officers addressing habits such as tailgating and not indicating, bad driving practice is seemingly starting to become more common.”

Carlisle-based driving instructor Keith Summers has been steering local students through their tests for the last 26 years. He is out on the roads of north Cumbria seven days a week and says the number one bad habit he sees among drivers is texting at the wheel.

“You’re 400 times more likely to have an accident if you do this,” Mr Summers warns.

Next up, he says, is being distracted and fatigue, for example, falling asleep at the wheel. And the third most common example of bad practice Mr Summers witnesses is motorists failing to stay out of box junctions. He says: “When was the last time you saw someone obey a box junction? The worst spot for it is in Lowther Street. There’s a £40 fine for touching a box junction but it doesn’t get enforced.”

Mr Summers reckons Cumbria should learn from central London where a camera is trained on drivers on one road with a notorious box junction.

Anyone whose wheels touch the yellow lines are hit with a £65 fine. He says: “This catches 100 drivers a day and generates £2.7m a year in income – we need it here in Cumbria.”

Making up Mr Summers’ top five are the red light jumpers and the tailgaters.

“I try to stop my students developing these bad habits but once they pass their test their confidence is high and they’re on their own,” he adds.

“Nine out of 10 ten times they get away with it but there’s still that one chance the worst could happen.”

What are your biggest bugbears on the road? Join the discussion on our Facebook page or Tweet @newsandstar.

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