Personal Injury

8 Out of 10 Drivers Admit to Risky Behaviour

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

First4Lawyers, May 19, 2021

Eight in 10 drivers have reported risking their lives – and the lives of others – whilst on the road.

This is according to a survey of 2,000 UK motorists commissioned by First4Lawyers.

We found that from driving under the influence to using their phones behind the wheel, motorists admitted to acting carelessly – and dangerously.

Most common road risks

Speeding was the most common type of dangerous behaviour our survey respondents admitted to, with 55% saying they’ve exceeded the speed limit.

Driving while sleepy was another common risk, with 30% admitting to it. The risks of driving while tired can be underestimated, but according to a study led by the University of California Los Angeles, fatigue has a similar effect on the brain to alcohol. This makes it anything but harmless.

Winter came with threats to other innocent road users, with 29% of motorists saying they’d driven when their icy windscreens hadn’t fully defrosted.

Undertaking – the dangerous act of overtaking on the left-hand side – was something 24% of drivers said they’d done, while 23% confessed to driving through a red light.

Driving under the influence

A worryingly high number of motorists reported they had driven while over the alcohol limit – 21%. But 19% admitted that they weren’t confident they knew what the drink driving limit is.

When questioned, however, only 8% of drivers knew the correct limit in the UK, excluding Scotland. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the limit stands at 80mg per 100ml of blood.

Scotland’s limit is lower, at 50mg per 100ml, but just 10% of motorists surveyed knew that.

Meanwhile, 17% reported driving after taking drugs. Drivers aged 25 to 34 were most likely to drive after using narcotics – with the most common type being cannabis.

Phones behind the wheel

Mobile phones presented a range of distractions and threats to road safety. Of the drivers we surveyed, 16% said they’d taken or made phone calls without using a hands-free system.

Another 8% said they had checked social media behind the wheel, while 5% admitted to posting on their social networks.

Some drivers found it impossible to resist documenting their driving – despite the danger. 6% of survey respondents said they had taken selfies whilst in the driver’s seat, and 5% reported filming themselves.

Younger drivers were more likely to confess to phone-based law breaking. Those aged 17 to 24 were more likely to take selfies and post on social media, while those aged between 25 and 34 were more likely to check social media, watch videos and film themselves driving.

Road safety concerns

Despite some of the dangerous actions drivers admitted to, 83% thought they were safe behind the wheel and avoid taking any risks. Meanwhile, 70% think the roads are safe to drive on.

A total of 74% of drivers said they had felt intimidated by other motorists at least once. But 26% admitted to intentionally intimidating another driver.

Other road users were the biggest worry for drivers, with 38% saying so. Bad weather worried 37% of our survey respondents, while breaking down was a concern for 34%.

Somewhat reassuringly, 10% of the drivers we surveyed said they were worried about their car’s passengers.

Managing director of First4Lawyers Qamar Anwar said: “Driving can be – and should be – a safe and enjoyable experience.

“However, as the findings show, there are those who are taking risks and could be ruining it for everyone else. Not all accidents are necessarily preventable but many are – and all drivers have a role to play in making UK roads and highways safer.”

To find out how safe you are on the roads, take our driver attitude test here.

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