Keeping up, and keeping on: Roads policing, risk and the law-abiding driving offender Helen Wells



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Keeping up, and keeping on: Roads policing, risk and the law-abiding driving offender

Helen Wells

Keele University, UK



Leanne Savigar

Keele University, UK

(this article is part of a special edition of a journal entitled ‘The Crimes of the Law Abiding’)

Abstract

Roads policing has been described as “the public face of the police” for many citizens (Corbett, 2008a:131), but fails to excite much criminological interest. This is despite the fact that vehicle use is the most likely generator of an adverse-outcome encounter between the general public and the police (Corbett 2008b:13) and is therefore one of the most likely situations in which individuals are confronted with their own ‘law-abidingness’ or lack of it. The paper will propose that the concepts of ‘risk’ (as a political as well as sociological concept) and ‘acceleration’ (of technological change, as well as social and everyday life) can be used to explain the controversial and apparently unsettling image of roads policing in recent years. This paper reflects on how speeding offences (researched between 2002-2006) and mobile phone use by drivers (researched between 2013-2016) reveal much about how drivers see themselves, their priorities, and the law.


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