With 37.9 million vehicles licenced for use on Britain’s roads and over 48 million driving licence holders in the country, it’s clear that motoring is a big part of life in modern Britain.
As more and more people take to the roads, we wanted to get a picture of how Brits are driving and what habits they are likely to pick up behind the wheel.
We surveyed 2,000 UK road users to find out where corners were being cut and what impact this could have on Britain’s roads.
The great news is that most people said they did not commit any of the bad habits we questioned them on, which included not keeping safe distances, smoking at the wheel and driving with reduced visibility.
However, there were a few habits that a significant number of people admitted to.
EATING OR DRINKING BEHIND THE WHEEL
Eating or drinking whilst driving is the most common bad habit on Britain’s roads, with 35% of people saying they snack whilst driving.
When you’re short on time and in a rush to get somewhere, grabbing a bite or a quick swig of water in the car might seem pretty harmless – but even if it only takes half a second to open that bottle of water, or grab a mouthful of crisps, that’s enough time to travel over 35 metres at the speed limit on a UK motorway. The Highway code indicates that the total stopping distance at 70 mph is 96 metres, so if something happens when your eyes are not on the road, you’re increasing your stopping distance by nearly 40%.
TAKING SHORTCUTS ACROSS A CAR PARK
Most car parks operate the same way as our roads, with designated lines and directions marking out where you can and can’t go. Despite this, almost a third (31%) of drivers admit they have ignored these directions to take shortcuts through car parking spaces and across car parks.
Research from the RAC suggests that over a third of drivers (35%) have pranged their car in a car park and almost a quarter (21%) have done so five times. These small accidents can add up to some serious bills in repairs.
RUSHING TO BEAT A TRAFFIC LIGHT
The impulse to push on the accelerator rather than the brake when you see an amber light is definitely alive in the UK, as 29% of drivers admit trying to squeeze through the lights on amber to save time.
Britain’s highway code states that you should stop at traffic lights showing amber. You should only go if your vehicle has already crossed the line when the light appears. Drivers who carry on regardless may risk an accident.
SWEARING AT OTHER ROAD USERS
Sometimes, a fellow road-user will do something that annoys you, such as pulling out in front of you or refusing to let you out at a busy junction.
In this situation, 27% of people said they would react by swearing or making angry gestures at the person committing this behaviour.
The only time it is necessary to interact with other drivers is if they are causing a hazard. The horn alerts someone to your presence, so they can correct their behaviour.
WEARING INAPPROPRIATE FOOTWEAR
Driving in inappropriate footwear can limit your driving ability by restricting your foot movement or making it more likely that your feet will slide about on the pedals. Despite this, one in five (18%) UK drivers say that they have driven in shoes that weren’t suited to being behind the wheel.
To be suitable for driving, shoes should have a sole that is less than 10mm thick, have some grip and allow free ankle movement.
By being aware of these common behaviours to look out for on Britain’s roads, and why they are dangerous, you should be able to make your journeys safer. Do you have any bad driving habits? Or perhaps you regularly see worse behaviour whilst out and about? Let us know on Twitter over @InsuretheGap.