- One in four motorists have suffered from a missile hitting their vehicle
- 81% of motorists have seen people throwing objects into the road during the last five years
- 89% of motorists haven’t reported incidents they’ve seen to police
Motorists are being urged to stop motorway madness by reporting the thugs who throw missiles at cars ‘for fun’, after alarming independent research has revealed a hidden menace that could be risking hundreds of lives every year.
Autoglass® is calling for motorists to act responsibly and report the youngsters who hurl objects at vehicles to the police, after research shows a staggering 89 per cent never report what they’ve seen, despite one in four of us suffering from this potentially fatal craze.
But Autoglass® is hoping film footage from new testing at MIRA (formerly the Motor Industry Research Association), showing just how catastrophic the damage is when a brick collides with the windscreen of a typical family car, will in the future encourage motorists to call the police.
A new report, commissioned by the company, highlights how the police are keen to downplay the issue saying it is ‘not a problem’, but a motorist survey exposes this ‘hidden’ crime, with 81 per cent admitting witnessing people hurling objects in front of vehicles. Suggesting the problem is vastly more widespread than officers realise. The research also shows there is no central records facility and there is a lack of consistency across police forces about how this information is logged, which is why Autoglass® is asking police to record these crimes separately.
Seven out of ten motorists worry when driving under a bridge with people on it but drivers are very clear about what should be done to those found responsible for causing casualties in this way, with almost three-quarters (73%) saying the maximum penalty should be higher than the existing seven years imprisonment and/or a fine, with 54 per cent agreeing that imprisonment or detention is the only appropriate action if casualties are caused.
In excess of 90 per cent (94%) said that some form of preventative action needs to be taken (i.e. high fencing/CCTV/funding educational programmes or providing police with more resources) but without accurate statistics to show where the problem areas are, funds will never be appropriated correctly until a serious accident or fatality is caused to bring it to light. This is why Autoglass® is calling for local authorities to back the campaign asking for motorists to report incidents and then using this information to consider if installing CCTV or netting is appropriate.
David Brown, senior technical advisor with the Highways Agency, explains: “In the last few years, there has been a considerable number of incidents involving people throwing objects at traffic. This type of vandalism is particularly dangerous and potentially can result in a serious road traffic accident. It is a crime that has no set pattern and is usually attributed to young children who have ‘nothing better to do’ and find this activity ‘exciting’.
Adrian Walsh, director of Roadsafe, said: “This eye opening report shows that much more needs to be done by parents and schools to educate youngsters. The Highways Agency already has a schools programme in place but ideally this should be extended and more needs to be done by local authorities and motorists should report incidents to the Police.”
Nigel Doggett, managing director of Autoglass®, said: “We fix thousands of windscreens every day and so we see first-hand the consequences of the actions of these mindless yobs, which is why we commissioned the report to find out exactly how much of a problem this is. Images from the MIRA testing bring home, only too graphically, just how serious this potentially fatal vandalism can be when you’re in a vehicle travelling at motorway speeds.
“Parents can also help reduce this risk by talking to their youngsters about these activities and making them aware of how serious the consequences can be.
“However, the main way to reduce and uncover these hidden crimes is for drivers to report all incidents to the police and for them to record these accurately and act on them – together this will save lives.”
For more information and to watch the MIRA shock footage visit www.autoglassnews.co.uk
Autoglass® is the UK’s leading vehicle glass repair and replacement service, with 108 branches nationwide and 1,300 mobile service units. For details of your nearest centre call 0800 36 36 36 or visit www.autoglass.co.uk.
Notes to editors:
A copy of the full research report from BMG can be found by going to www.autoglassnews.co.uk
The MIRA (formerly the Motor Industry Research Association) testing took place on 16 Nov 09 and showed that at 60mph the brick fractured the windscreen showering the front compartment with glass but the object was deflected upward over the roof of the vehicle. While at 70mph the brick passed through the windscreen but most of the energy was absorbed and the brick dropped onto the dashboard. To download the shock footage go to www.digitalnewsagency.com
For high-res images and information about victim case studies (including the family of a motorway fatality in 2003) please contact Katie McDermott at email@example.com or by calling 0121 711 5000.
Autoglass® Motorist Survey – Headlines
1,891 motorists were surveyed by BMG in between 13-30 November 2009:
- 81% of motorists have seen people throwing objects into the road over the last five years
- 33% of those have seen people throwing objects into the road over the last 5 years five or more times
- 22% - almost a quarter of those questioned - had suffered from a missile hitting their vehicle, with motorists in Scotland and Wales showing higher than average percentages (29% and 24% respectively).
- The East of England showed the least number of drivers having been hit (14%), unsurprising given that the area has fewer motorways and A roads traversing it than many other areas of the country. The South West showed the next lowest number of drivers having been hit, with 17%
- 89% of those people didn’t report it to the police (94% of men compared to 85% of women)
- Only 27% of drivers do not worry at all about driving under a bridge when people are standing on it
- 73% say the maximum penalty should be higher if casualties are caused by throwing objects at vehicles – with 54% saying only imprisonment or detention the most appropriate action if casualties are caused
- 94% said that some form of preventative action needs to be taken (i.e. fencing/CCTV/funding educational programmes/providing police with more resources)
- 43% said youngsters throw objects because they don’t understand the consequences of their actions
Other report highlights:
- From anecdotal evidence, it can be seen that Surrey, with three major motorways, the M3, the M23 and the M25, as well as several major A roads has suffered a higher number of reported incidents than most. The M3 seems particularly vulnerable to these incidents.
- Lancashire too is criss-crossed with motorways, from the M65 in the north to the M56 in the south, with the M6 also passing through the area and there have been incidents reported on all of these roads in 2009.
- Incidents tend to be in areas in or around major conurbations and research for this report revealed high numbers of incidents on roads around Bristol, Birmingham, Chelmsford, Manchester and Nottingham.
- The research also revealed that a while a fatality on a particular road may deter youngsters from throwing stones on that particular road in the months following the incident, it does not deter them from throwing stones in other parts of the area, as evidenced by South Wales Police, where John Wells died.
Additional comments from leading agencies:
Kate Gibbs, Head of Communications for the Road Haulage Association said: “This is a problem that needs to be addressed as a matter of extreme urgency. We hear of more and more cases of vehicles being targeted but it would appear the increased frequency of incidents seems to make them less newsworthy.
“We need to see action taken to keep road bridges and their access road clear of potential ‘ammunition’. If a car is hit by a brick being hurled from overhead, the effects can be extremely serious; in some cases, fatal. If the driver of a heavy goods vehicle suffers the same crime, the results can be catastrophic.”
Issued on behalf of Autoglass® by Bright, 10 St Catherine’s Court, Herbert Road, Solihull, West Midlands, B91 3QE For further information please contact Katie McDermott/Emmie Sadler/Kim Barnes/Faith Brotherston at Bright on Tel: +44 (0) 121 711 5000 Fax: +44 (0) 121 711 5001 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.