ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: Inchrock Group
Inchrock Group t/a
Povey Cross Road
26 September 2001
Objections to a direct mailing, for a radar detecting device, headlined, "It's a fact that radar detectors are fast becoming standard equipment for the business driver. Here, we look at the truth behind speed, zero tolerance and cash motivated enforcement ...". Under the heading "Radar detectors improve road safety", the mailing stated "An up to the minute radar detector, the size of a cigarette packet, will simply and effectively alert you to the presence of speed traps and nothing else. Interestingly, it has been shown that the use of a radar detector is not only a licence saving measure, it also has safety benefits. A survey by research agency, Clancy Schulman showed that detector users were involved in 23% less accidents and drove almost 60,000 miles more between accidents than non-detector users." The mailing stated that the radar detector "alerts you both visually and audibly to the presence and proximity of a speed trap ... Spot a camera before you can even see it. A third generation detector from Roadnet, can detect a Gatso camera at around 800 metres from behind and a radar or laser gun is detectable at around 2 miles or so." Under the heading "Award winning range to help avoid points and fines" it stated "The purchase of a sophisticated speed trap detector can mean the difference between surviving the dangers of the open road or enduring a driving ban, hefty financial penalty and increased insurance premiums." The complainants:
1. objected that the advertisement invited disrespect for measures that enforced speed limits and encouraged speeding and irresponsible driving; and
2. challenged the implication that using radar detectors improved road safety.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
1. Complaints upheld
The advertisers said they were merely stating that hidden speed traps and the reduction of sensible speed limits had been done to trap motorists, most of whom drove according to the road conditions. They said they did not endorse breaking the law but they believed that speed limit enforcement varied widely from area to area; some motorists were convicted for driving at 32 mph in a 30 mph zone but in other areas 35 mph was acceptable. The advertisers asserted that the Chief Constable's guidelines stated that a tolerance of 10% plus 2 mph should be exercised on speed limits. They said they simply echoed widely held public opinion. The Authority considered that the use of statements such as "Award winning range to help avoid points and fines" and "The purchase of a sophisticated speed trap detector can mean the difference between surviving the dangers of the open road or enduring a driving ban, hefty financial penalty and increased insurance premiums" were likely to be seen to condone the use of detectors to break speed limits without getting caught and could therefore encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly and break the law. The Authority told the advertisers to amend the mailing with help from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Copy Advice team.
2. Complaints upheld
The advertisers submitted a Market & Opinion Research International (MORI) survey in support of their claim. They believed the survey showed that radar detector users were safer drivers, because they drove more miles between accidents. The advertisers said the survey showed that three-quarters of users were more aware of speed limits and were more conscious of keeping to speed limits since they bought the radar detector and three in five users had become safer drivers since owning a radar detector. MORI, which had conducted the research on behalf of the advertisers, said one should not assume that radar detector users were safer drivers merely because they drove more miles between accidents. The Authority concluded that, because MORI had said the number of miles driven between accidents did not prove driver safety, the implication in the advertisement that radar detector users were safer drivers was misleading. The Authority told the advertisers to withdraw the mailing and amend it with help from the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising again.