The 5 Worst Driving Habits in the UK
Do you have any bad driving habits? Most people will tell you that they are good drivers. In fact, some sources suggest that up to 90% of drivers think they are a ‘good’ driver. Another study found that 93% of Americans thought they would rank in the top 50% for driving skill. So why do I always seem to be sharing the road with the rubbish 7-10%?
Regardless of how you imagine your own driving ability, it is very easy to spot bad driving habits in others. Having spent countless hours sitting alongside complete strangers while they test drive cars, here are The Car Expert’s ‘5 Worst Driving Habits’. This is not about blatant law-breaking activity (drink driving, texting while driving, barrelling through a school zone at 150mph, etc.), but rather the everyday driving habits people seem to develop, either consciously or unconsciously. Although they may seem harmless, most of them do break the law at some point, and can lead to a dangerous situation on the road.
Bad Driving Habits #5: Speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down
If you use cruise control when you drive, this habit is very easy to spot in others. How many times have you passed someone on a motorway, only to have them come flying past you again a few minutes later?
This bad driving habit is also easily found in taxi drivers around the world. For some reason, every minicab driver seems to think that driving consists of slamming his accelerator flat to the floor, only ever taking his foot off to jam it on the brakes. As well as dramatically increasing fuel consumption and brake wear, it can be dangerous if you are leaving no margin for error by having to always brake heavily at the last minute. And let’s not even get started on the generally woeful driving habits and standards of minicab drivers…
Bad Driving Habits #4: Pushing in
Driving in London can be frustrating, as millions of cars try to all make their way around and across the city. But some drivers seem to think that they have the right to simply pull out into traffic and make everyone else brake for them. This applies to junctions, exits and motorway lane changing.
I like to think that I’m generally a courteous driver. If I see someone waiting to pull out at a T-junction or indicating that they want to move into my lane, I will slow and allow them in (obviously checking my mirrors first, to make sure I’m not about to cause an accident). But if someone is trying to push their way out into the road or into my lane and simply expecting me to slow for them, then they get no such courtesy. Same goes for people pushing into queues at the last minute, which brings me to…
Bad Driving Habits No. 3: The last-minute lane change
Last-minute lane changers usually fall into two groups: the “Arrgh, this is my turn-off RIGHT HERE!”; and the arrogant idiots who simply try and push into a queue at the last possible minute to gain themselves a 13-second advantage by not waiting in line. The first group are usually new to the area, and it doesn’t bother me. A portable satnav stuck to the windscreen is usually a giveaway, and given how slow some nav units are at giving directions, it’s not surprising that drivers don’t get enough warning of their turn-offs. The second group (again, often minicab drivers) are simply very rude people who think they’re being clever when actually they’re showing a complete lack of respect for their fellow road users.
Last-minute lane changers are especially dangerous for cyclists, as the driver may have a quick check of the mirror in the millisecond before they swing across traffic, but the chances of them seeing a bike or scooter are non-existent.
Bad Driving Habits No. 2: Failing to Give Way to Pedestrians
It amazes me that so few drivers in the UK respect the right of way for pedestrians crossing roads at intersections. The Highway Code states that cars must give way to pedestrians who have already started to cross a road. This applies to cars turning both left and right into a junction. Yet it is rare to see cars stopping for pedestrians, especially cars turning right at an intersection. As a car driver, it delays your journey by about 3 seconds to slow or stop for a pedestrian. There is no excuse for not giving way to pedestrians at all times, even when not strictly required to by law – especially if it’s cold and raining outside while you’re snug and warm in your car. The same applies to cars blocking pedestrian crossings when stopped in traffic – there’s just no need, and it forces pedestrians out of the crossing zone into potential danger.
Bad Driving Habits No. 1: Failing to Keep Left Unless Overtaking
This is probably the most annoying of all bad driving habits on the road. Widespread failure to keep left effectively turns many three-lane motorways into two-lane roads, slowing vast volumes of traffic and increasing accident risk for large numbers of cars.
The UK Highway Code states that drivers should “always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.”
It’s not complicated. Drive in the left-hand lane, move out to overtake, move back to the left-hand lane. Simples.
Driving in the middle or right-hand lane (either deliberately or through inattention) backs up traffic and contributes to tailgating. Whilst tailgating is reckless and dangerous behaviour, slow drivers in the outside lane contribute to the problem by forcing cars behind to slow down. It also contributes to undertaking, which is equally dangerous.
So, what are your thoughts? Would you admit to having any of these driving habits? What is the most annoying thing you see happening every day on UK roads? Please leave your thoughts below.
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