Our Survey Reveals Britain’s Terrifying Driving Habits

Added: 29 January 2018

Have you fallen asleep at the wheel, changed your seating position, driven without a seatbelt on, or checked your emails whilst driving? Our shocking survey of British drivers[1] proves that this sort of dangerous driving is more common than you might think!

With the added danger of dark evenings and icy roads this winter, our team decided to investigate what dangerous driving behaviours anonymous Brits will admit to committing. With over 130,000 traffic accidents reported to police in 2016 alone, and a terrifying 1,792 road deaths[2], the survey results make for shocking, but perhaps not unsurprising, reading.

1 in 25 Drivers Admit to Having Fallen Asleep at the Wheel

We all know how dangerous driving tired is – research suggests that almost 20% of accidents on major road are sleep related[3]. This makes it even more surprising that, despite sleep coming on slowly and usually giving plenty of warning, 1 in 25 of survey respondents have fallen asleep at the wheel or been in a car where the driver has.

With 1 in 4 people admitting to driving when very tired, and nearly 1 in 8 driving when hungover (and potentially still drunk), Drive Vauxhall encourages drivers to take a step back and think before hitting the road this year – after all, drivers can show signs of impairments up to 20 hours after consuming alcohol!

1 in 10 People Have Driven Without a Seatbelt

Driving without a seatbelt became illegal in 1983, so the British public have had a long time to get used to the need to wear them. Not only does this simple safety device prevent injury and save over 2,000 lives a year, but not wearing one comes with fines and points that can eventually lead to drivers losing their licence.

Despite this, the Drive Vauxhall survey found that people on our roads are breaking the law surprisingly frequently, with 1 in 10 people owning up to driving without a seatbelt on. And on top of this, 40% of drivers admit to breaking speed limits by a little bit – and one in 10 admit to driving significantly over the legal speed. With fines and punishments having been dramatically increased in 2017, this behaviour is as unwise as it is unsafe.

1 in 10 Drivers Have Checked Texts or Emails When Driving

It has been illegal to use a phone when driving since December 2003, but any regular road user will tell you that people still use their devices. Our survey revealed that 10% of drivers will read their texts or emails when driving, making their reaction times 2 to 3 times slower.

Interestingly, despite this willingness to admit to undeniably dangerous driving habits, British drivers actually rate their own driving skills higher than the national average. In fact, the majority of survey respondents confidently rated themselves as “Very Good” whilst their fellow drivers only scored “Good” . The difference was even starker for our most confident (yet most inexperienced) group of drivers, the 18-24 age group, who self-assuredly rated themselves better than any other age group (a modest “Excellent”).

Whilst younger drivers were less modest in our survey, they are actually the most likely drivers to crash, making up 9% of fatal crashes[4] even though they account for only 1.5% of licence holders in the UK.

Are Brits driving more dangerously than ever?

Despite the results of the Drive Vauxhall Survey, you could argue that cars are becoming safer than ever.

Improvements in safety systems from even the smallest cars up to the most advanced family people-carriers mean that technology is starting to prevent crashes for us – avoiding accidents, automatically breaking and  packing an impressive range of kit, airbags and safety options. This is likely contributing to the 3% decrease in road traffic casualties In 20163.

Despite all this, however, the same government statistics[5] show that, worryingly, some key accident statistics are getting worse, with a concerning 4% increase in road deaths.

Are Brits driving unsafely, as our survey results suggest, or is it down to the 2.2% increase in vehicle traffic levels3?

[1] Drive Vauxhall via Google Surveys, December 2017,  up to 1,500 respondents

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/648081/rrcgb2016-01.pdf

[3] http://think.direct.gov.uk/fatigue.html

[4] http://www.brake.org.uk/too-young-to-die/15-facts-a-resources/facts/488-young-drivers-the-hard-facts

[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-great-britain-annual-report-2016