Two-thirds of UK drivers think they can get away with motoring misdemeanours due to a lack of police patrols.

A survey by the AA found that 65 percent of drivers thought they were able to commit offences such as tailgating and lane hogging because government cuts have reduced the police presence on the roads.

The study of more than 19,000 drivers also found that the reduction in traffic officers has caused offences such as using a mobile phone while driving and not wearing a seatbelt to be missed.

More than half of those questioned (55 percent) said they thought it was unlikely that a driver would be caught driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition, while almost as many (54 percent) said they believed using a hand-held mobile phone while driving would go unpunished.

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Interestingly, some 44 percent said drivers were unlikely to be caught running red lights, yet just one-third (33 percent) said driving in a bus lane would be missed by the authorities.

Similarly, 43 percent said drug-drivers were highly unlikely to be caught, while 36 percent thought drivers under the influence of alcohol would be rooted out by police.

Edmund King, the AA’s president, said an increase in police patrols was the only way to stop lawbreakers. ‘It is worrying that drivers feel that a lack of police officers on the roads means they think they can get away with careless driving and other serious motoring offences,’ he said.

‘The AA and the government are keen to stamp out using a handheld mobile phone whilst driving, but more than half feel it can be done with little chance of punishment. 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.

‘What is clear is that camera enforcement is seen as an actual deterrent, but Big Brother can only do so much; we need more cops in cars.’