Research: Is Driver Behaviour Improving or Getting Worse?
Unfortunately, almost all drivers have experienced a road traffic accident or near miss whilst driving. Too often these experiences result in serious injury or fatalities. Therefore, we decided to conduct research to establish some of the main issues affecting safety on our roads. In particular, we wanted to find out the general public view on whether driver behaviour is improving or getting worse.
According to the AA February 2019 Driver Poll which had 20,827 responses, driver behaviour is thought to be getting worse. Mobile phone use was the only one driver behaviour considered to be improving. Also, recent research from TeamSport Indoor Karting revealed that 88% of drivers admit to doing at least one of the top 10 annoying driving habits. Furthermore, this research by the UK’s largest karting operator, revealed Manchester as the city with the UK’s most annoying drivers. This is followed by London in second place.
From this research, it seems that overall driver behaviour requires major improvements if we want to make our roads safer. But which behaviours are considered to be the biggest issues on UK roads?
What are the biggest problems affecting road safety?
Figures from the Driver Safety Culture Survey 2018 by IAM RoadSmart, suggest that driver distraction, traffic congestion and aggressive drivers are major problems affecting safety on our roads.
The graph above shows that 76% of people felt traffic congestion was a bigger problem in 2018 compared to three years prior. This could be negatively affecting driver behaviour as being stuck in traffic often causes stress and impatience amongst drivers. This might cause some drivers to become selfish and commit road rage, especially if they’re in a rush.
Driver distraction e.g. talking / texting on mobile phone was also considered a bigger problem in 2018 than three years prior. In fact, the results revealed 93% of people felt drivers checking or updating social media or drivers text messaging or e-mailing was a very/somewhat serious threat to their personal safety on the roads. Yet still there are large numbers of drivers who decide to use their mobile phone whilst driving a vehicle.
The survey found that 68% of people felt aggressive drivers had become a bigger problem on our roads. High numbers of motorists have experiences incidents where they have been sworn at, threatened with violence or felt intimidated by aggressive drivers. These figures all suggest that overall the general public feel driver behaviour has become worse over the years.
We also decided to contact relevant professionals for their opinions on current road safety and driver behaviour in the UK.
Nick Lloyd, acting head of Road Safety at RoSPA said;
"Vehicles in themselves are not dangerous, it’s the way in which they are driven that is the issue. Over 90% crashes on our roads happen as a result of driver error; skill and ability is rarely the principal factor. Poor driver behaviour where a lack of respect for the safety of others is unfortunately all to a common occurrence and has been a trait exhibited by some drivers ever since the car first invented. I have no evidence that it is getting better, all too often we see the vehicle in front as a metal object, rather than a person in it, hence the lack of respect and courtesy exhibited. It’s sad that this is only likely to improve with the introduction of autonomous vehicles."
This statement supports our findings that driver behaviour continues to be a major issue on our roads.
When we contacted Confused.com, they highlighted the need for better awareness of driving offences.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com comments,
“While it is not clear if driving behaviour is getting worse, many people are still committing driving offences. Our research finds many motorists admit to committing offences like middle-lane hogging (15%), tailgating (11%) or undertaking another vehicle (30%). All of these offences could lead to drivers being handed significant fines or lead to serious safety consequences for both themselves and other motorists.
“The reason so many drivers are committing these dangerous offences is down to a lot of people find driving laws confusing and being unsure about what is legal or illegal. We believe better awareness of driving offences can eliminate bad driving habits. To get clued up, check out our guide on some of the common driving laws and their fine implications.”
Another major issue affecting road safety is uninsured drivers. We contacted the Motor Insurers’ Bureau(MIB) which is an organisation helping to tackle the issue of uninsured and hit and run driving. They informed us that currently they estimate there are one million uninsured drivers on UK roads. This figure remains too high despite the number of uninsured drivers having reduced from 2 million over the past 10 years. (This information was collected from MIB working in partnership with insurers, police and DVLA).
Uninsured drivers are likely to be more dangerous and cause accidents on our roads than insured drivers. This is partly because insured drivers are more likely to practise safer driving behaviour and meet road legal requirements in order to keep their insurance costs down.
Many organisations are working tirelessly to improve the safety on our roads. The desire for improved road safety awareness is vastly displayed through public awareness campaigns by organisations such as Think!
We contacted LV= to find out their view of safety on our roads and driver behaviour.
Martin Milliner, the Claims Director for LV= General Insurance commented;
Unfortunately, it seems the general view is that driver behaviour on UK roads is getting worse. Whilst a range of safety features on vehicles is helping to improve road safety, high levels of careless driving and uninsured drivers continues to compromise the safety of road users. Road features such as improved cycles lanes and current public awareness campaigns for road safety are excellent contributions to help tackle issues on our roads.
We do recognise, of course, that there are many safe and respectful drivers. However, we hope this information encourages drivers to consider their driving behaviours, especially dangerous drivers. Being a safe driver could help to reduce the number of road traffic accidents.
Note: This research is largely based on the opinions of participants in surveys and comments from within relevant organisations as well as ourselves. Further research and data would be required to reach an accurate conclusion to whether driver behaviour is improving or getting worse.