Money Matters Team

Driven to distraction

By Money Matters Team 18/04/2013

How is your driving?

Seasoned driving instructors share some of the UK's worst driving habits.

How about this for a fact: UK motorists get stuck in traffic on average 1073 times in their lifetime, according to research by location technology company, Skobbler.

But it's not just traffic jams that can get us worked up behind the wheel. The bad habits of other motorists can also get our blood boiling. Forgetting to indicate before switching lanes, being inconsiderate to cyclists or simply being 'road hogs' are typical examples, according to seasoned UK driving instructors.

Although we might not like to admit it, the chances are many of us have picked up some bad driving habits since we passed our tests.

Here are some to look out for:

Stay focussed

There are many risks that drivers take when driving; eating is just one, according to Amelia Phillips of Drivers Edge UK. She warns: “Many drivers don’t know that [eating] increases reaction times by 44%" and suggests that drivers "eat before hitting the roads (rather than driving on an empty stomach) so [they] can stay safe and focussed".

Pay attention

Are you alert and aware of your surroundings and other road users? Do you always drive in the correct and safest lane? “Occupying the middle or outside lanes when inner lanes are clear of traffic shows you’re not paying attention to your driving,” highlights Phillip Bingham of miDrive: This is a bad habit and can "encourage tailgating or undertaking from drivers you unnecessarily obstruct".

Drive to conditions

Be prepared for the unpredictable British weather. “Stick to the speed limit [and] adapt your speed to ever-changing conditions", stresses Damien Burke of Blue School of Motoring "especially when the conditions change, [for example in] poor visibility, [caused by] rain, fog, strong sunlight and narrowing roads.”

Keep calm and carry on

Rushing to get somewhere can result in driving too fast, cutting corners and being overconfident in our driving abilities and this can also be hazardous. Kathy Higgins from Insight 2 Drive says: “The reason a lot of bad or lazy habits are allowed to develop is because of the optimistic bias we all have, which tells us bad crashes happen to other drivers". Remember, always to drive carefully.

Keep your distance and a cool head

Keeping a cool head on the road is vital even when the car in front is moving slowly. Consider the speed limit and keep a safe distance; tailgating is never the answer, “A driver must leave a safe stopping distance, allowing the driver in front to see [them] and judge [their car's position] better," warns Josef Harle of Belt Up. The advantage of this is that "you will have more time and space to react to hazards, [and] it will save you in vehicle wear, tear and fuel consumption”.

Look, look and look again

Mirror, signal and manoeuvre should still echo in all driver’s minds. “Always check your blind spots before moving off. This is potentially a life saver," advises Alan Whittingham of Paragon Driving as "cyclists and motorbikes can sneak up on you quickly".

So, next time you hit the road, keep yourself, your passengers and other road users safe by working hard to eliminate those bad driving habits. If you can reduce your chances of having to claim on your insurance policy and keep your no claim discount then even better.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.