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Dangerous driving up in lockdown but vehicle theft down

Dangerous driving on the UK’s roads increased in 2020 but vehicle-related crime fell significantly in lockdowns.

Smart motorways

Dangerous driving increased by 3% in 2020 compared to 2019

The newly released ONS data shows that dangerous driving increased by 3% in 2020 compared to 2019, reinforcing police and anecdotal reports of speeding and general bad driving during the lockdown.

However, over the same period, vehicle-related crime fell significantly including a two fifths (42%) reduction in ‘vehicle theft from the person’ and burglary related theft from a vehicle reduced by a quarter (24%).

Latest ONS data on vehicle-related crime:

Offence 2019 2020 % Difference
Burglary – Aggravated vehicle taking 5,582 4,829 -13%
Burglary – Theft from a vehicle 286,001 271,263 -24%
Burglary – Theft or unauthorised taking of a vehicle 113,644 94,915 -16%
Burglary – Vehicle interference 63,364 54,271 -14%
Vehicle theft from the person 114,753 66,429 -42%
Criminal damage to a vehicle 207,687 173,231 -13%
Dangerous driving 5,128 5,272 +3%

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: “It is deeply troubling that some drivers felt that lockdown restrictions and quieter roads allowed them to drive dangerously. The lack of cars on the road mixed with their misconception that they wouldn’t be caught only made their dangerous behaviour stand out more.

“These statistics come a day after the Department for Transport revealed that quieter roads during the pandemic lockdowns unleashed a surge in speeding. However, the level of law-breaking diminished significantly in the second lockdown after the police made it clear that it they were cracking down on anyone looking to exploit less traffic on the road. We hope to see a significant reduction in these figures next year.”

Cousens added that the AA had attended more catalytic converter thefts as the lockdown restrictions have eased; data published last month showed theft of catalytic converters has surged of late.

“As the UK begins to unlock, we hope that vehicle-related crime continues to fall rather than be a short-term benefit of the pandemic,” he finished.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.