From speeding to checking their mobile phone, millions of British drivers have admitted that they take risks on the road when driving, even if the risks are deemed to be dangerous, a new study from Accident Advice Helpline has found.
Sometimes people don’t even know they’re breaking the law, usually because they don’t think they’re harming anyone.
UK drivers are committing road ‘crimes’ every single day including using their mobile phones behind the wheel, not wearing a seatbelt, riding bicycles on the pavement and splashing pedestrians with water from the road whilst driving their car.
Crimes which people admit to doing
Risks which people take on the road include not wearing a seatbelt every time they drive (23%), smoking in a car with a passenger under the age of 18 present (11%), having a dirty number place (36%), using the horn in anger or frustration (61%) or between 10:30pm and 7am unless in an emergency (18%) and the driver getting out of the car when stopped on a single yellow line (46%).
Checking mobile phones while driving is a generation habit with 41% of people aged 16-24 years-old admitting to using their device compared to just 19% of those over 55 years in age. It seems that men are more likely to get angry with their horn with 67% of men admitting to using it in anger or frustration compared to just 55% of women admitting the same.
Some of these offenses may seem relatively mild but if you’re stopped by the police you can get a fixed penalty notice or be prosecuted if your actions are deemed dangerous.
Why do people commit these road crimes?
The most common reason people cited as to why they had committed a road crime was that they didn’t even think about it while they were doing it with 53% of people citing this as their reason.
Thinking that they weren’t harming anyone was cited as a reason for 19% of people but it was a more common excuse with males with 23% of men saying this compared to 13% of women.
Younger people were more likely to cite being busy as their reason for committing road crimes and those older with 13% of those ages 16-24 and 15% of those aged 25-34 using this as their primary reason compared to just 4% of those 45 years-old and over.
Those younger drivers under 24 years of age were more influenced by their parents than those older with 9% of people admitting that they committed road crimes because they had seen their parents do the same thing.
Reasons why people decide to ride their bicycle on the pavement
4 out of 10 people did not realise it was illegal to ride their bike on the pavement and 53% admit to doing it because of the poor state of; the roads, feeling safer doing so and the bad driving of other road users.
It is far more common for men to ride their bicycles on the pavement than women with just 40% of men stating that they’d never done this versus 59% of women who answered the same. The most common age for people to be driving on the pavements is 25-34 year-olds with 68% of people admitting to riding their bicycle on the pavement.
Women were much more likely to choose safety as their reason for riding on the pavement with 61% of women citing this as their reason for doing so compared to 48% of men. Men on the other hand cited the poor state of the roads as a bigger concern than women did with 34% of men citing it as a reason compared to 27% of women.
Safety was more of a concern for those over 35 years of age with 61% of people aged 35-44 saying this was the main reason they chose the ride on the pavement.
Reasons why people admitted to speeding
Despite knowing that it’s illegal, 75% of people state that they have been guilty of speeding. Most people will only do it when they feel safely in control of the car but the most common excuses include being late, trying to get through a green light quickly and to overtaking another vehicle.
Men are more likely to speed than women with 84% of men admitting to having sped in their cars compared to 69% of women. Younger drivers under the age of 25 are less likely to speed with 48% of people admitting to having never done it before compared to only 19% of people older than 55+ claiming that they had never sped.
Drivers living in London are much less likely to speed with only 70% admitting to having done so, this may be due to congestion and the larger number of cars on the road compared to other parts of the country.
Did people know….?
58% of people didn’t realise it was actually illegal to splash a pedestrian with water from the road whilst driving your car and that you can get a fixed penalty for doing so. Men were far more clued up with the laws on this with 43% confident in knowing that you could get a fixed penalty for splashing a pedestrian compared to just 28% of women who also knew the answer.
Despite it being illegal 1 in 4 people admits that this is something they have done.
David Carter of Accident Advice Helpline said “Laws are in place to help protect drivers and other road users so when you flaunt a law you are putting both yourself and others in danger. It’s worrying the number of people who take risks when on the road as being more careful and abiding by laws can help prevent accidents”.
1 in 4 people admit that taking risks has put them close to having an accident with another road user with 3% of British drivers saying that it had happened to them on several occasions while driving. Men were more likely to be close to having an accident with 34% of men saying they had been close compared to 17% of women stating the same thing.
64% of people have been in an accident themselves with 20% of them admitting it was their fault.