Top 5 Bad Highway Habits


DVSA Car: credit Commercial Motor

If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that there is some pretty appalling behaviour out there on the roads at times!

From tailgating to ignoring rights of way – when your office is 5ft above the tarmac with an engine you’ll have encountered it all!

We’ve compiled the Top 5 bad habits that get on your nerves, and looked at what you can do about it.

1. Mobile Phones

According to research by Department for Transport in 2017, phone usage by drivers has been reducing steadily, but still a significant number of motorists are distracted by their mobiles whilst behind the wheel.

Some interesting statistics popped up in this survey:

  • Men are significantly more likely to use a phone whilst driving than women.
  • Taxi/private hire drivers are almost 10 times more likely to be using a phone in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.
  • HGV drivers were by far the best-behaved group, with just 0.2% using a phone at all (average for all road users 2%), and less than 0.1% using it held to their ear.
  • Having a passenger in the vehicle made virtually no difference to the chances of the driver using their phone.

Worth knowing: The penalty for using a hand-held mobile at the wheel increased in 2017 to six points and a £200 fine.

What can you do?

The temptation to use your phone can be strong, but it’s simply not worth the risk.

There are plenty of hands-free kits available on the market. A decent one can be found for as little as £20 with a long enough battery life to last you all shift.

You could also take the digital-detox approach of just switching your device off, although we know that’s often not an option for some.

2. Tailgating

Dangerous for a number of reasons, tailgating is simply driving too close to the person in front of you.

Best practice is to leave a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front. The faster you travel, the more distance you cover in that time, so the bigger the gap you’ll need to leave.

The two-second rule is based on favourable driving conditions, so you may need to increase it for:

  • Poor visibility
  • Wet conditions (4 seconds)
  • Icy conditions (20 seconds)
  • If the person behind you is driving too close
  • If the vehicle in front of you is likely to have better braking performance than the vehicle that you are driving

3. Signalling (or not!)

A classic bug bear for lots of road users is others not using the pokey-out thing on the left of the steering column to let everyone else know what they’re trying to do.

And even when drivers do discover it, it’s often a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted – they’re half way over the white line before it’s on!

At the other extreme, there’s the ones that get a few miles down from the slip road and they’re blissfully unaware that their indicator is still going.

What can you do?

Unfortunately: nothing. The only solution here is to try and anticipate what people are going to do, and assume that they won’t bother indicating!

4. Middle Lane Hogging

You’ll all be familiar with rule 264 of the Highway Code, which reads:

“You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slow-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.”

Since 2013, you can actually be prosecuted for the offence of careless driving if an enforcement officer catches you doing it. It’s a £100 on-the-spot fine and can carry points, too.

What can you do?

Again, there’s little that can be done about drivers refusing to budge over other than resisting the urge to get wound up by it. It’s widely believed, although hard to prove, that experiencing road-rage notably increases your chances of being involved in a collision.

5. Jumping the Queue

Lanes being closed are a familiar sight on UK roads. Whether it’s a collision, breakdown, debris, roadworks or something else entirely, it happens frequently.

We’re all told to plan ahead when driving, so if you see that there’s a lane closure coming up, you’d change lane, right? And when there’s a long queue it’s infuriating to see some clever clogs fly up the soon-to-be-closed lane skipping all the traffic that you’re waiting patiently in.

Some of us take preventative measures, straddling both lanes to stop people “pushing in”. But actually – although they’re likely doing it for selfish reasons – those queue-jumpers could actually be doing us all a favour.

Here’s why:

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