Almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of motorists feel they can get away with tailgating and middle-lane hogging due to a lack of traffic officers out on the roads.

A survey of 19,506 drivers by the AA found offences such as using a hand-held mobile phone while driving, driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition and not wearing a seatbelt were also being missed due to a lack of traffic officers.

Respondents were asked to rate on a scale of one to 10, how likely they thought it was that a driver be caught and punished for committing certain offences.

More than half (55 per cent) felt drivers were not likely to be caught driving a vehicle in a dangerous or defective state.

A similar proportion (54 per cent) believed the same for drivers using a mobile phone behind the wheel.

On the one to 10 scale, just less than half (49 per cent) selected four or less for motorists not wearing a seatbelt or 44 per cent for running a red light.

Other offences the survey sample felt would be likely to go unpunished were drug driving (43 per cent), driving without insurance, drink driving and speeding (36 per cent each), and driving in a bus lane (33 per cent).

AA president Edmund King expressed concern that a lack of police officers on the roads meant drivers felt they could get away with serious motoring offences.

“Limited support for allowing third parties to carry out roads enforcement shows that drivers want more police on the streets to catch and prosecute drivers breaking the law,” he commented.

“Camera enforcement is seen as an actual deterrent, but Big Brother can only do so much; we need more cops in cars.”

Ben Robb, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, added: “A greater police presence seems to be the only way to make motorists behave themselves. The government must explore every avenue to crush this lax attitude to basic motoring rules.”

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