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18 April 2011

UK motorists in the firing line of holiday hooligans

~ Autoglass urges drivers to report missile-throwing thugs ~

Easter holiday motorists have been urged to shop vandals who hurl missiles at cars after almost a quarter of drivers quizzed in a survey (22%) said their vehicles had been hit.

The poll, commissioned by Autoglass, also found that 81% had seen people throwing objects into the road during the last five years but 89% have not reported incidents to the police.

The leading vehicle repair and replacement company warned that there could be an upsurge of attacks over the holiday period as more motorists take to the roads and bored youngsters have more time on their hands.

Matthew Mycock, managing director of Autoglass, which serves 1.5 million motorists every year, believes greater efforts should be made both in schools and in the home to educate children on road safety and eradicate the menace.

He said: “Throwing objects at vehicles can cause death, injury and destruction and we need to constantly remind those that engage in such dangerous behaviour that there is nothing funny or adventurous about it.

“Parents need to explain to their children the serious health and safety risks involved in playing what they believe are holiday pranks. However, the main deterrent is for motorists themselves to report such incidents so police can record them and respond accordingly.  It’s no exaggeration to say that this could save the lives of other road users.

“Autoglass repairs thousands of windscreens each day and our technicians witness the severity of the physical and mental damage caused by these mindless attacks first hand.”

Almost three-quarters (73%) of motorists believe the maximum penalty should be higher than the existing seven years’ imprisonment and/or a fine, with 54% agreeing that imprisonment or detention is the only appropriate action if casualties are caused.

A further 90% said that preventative action, such as high fencing, CCTV, educational programmes or provision of further police resources needs to be taken. However, without accurate statistics to show where the problem areas are, funds will never be appropriated correctly until a serious accident or fatality is caused, according to Autoglass.

The company, which dealt with 15 incidents of windscreens being shattered by missile-throwing thugs last year, is calling for local authorities to back the campaign by asking for motorists to report incidents and then using this information to consider if installing CCTV or netting is appropriate.

Mycock said: “The worry is that holiday periods such as Easter could lead to a spike in these attacks because of the greater volume of traffic on the roads and the increased time vandals have on their hands to wreak havoc.”

The survey also found that 73%  worry about driving under a bridge when people are standing on it.  Motorists in Scotland and Wales reported the highest average percentage of projectile attacks - 29% and 24% respectively.


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