The latest figures from the DVLA show that 2.76 million drivers in the UK hold points on their licence. Of those, 696,568 people hold 6 or more points as of May 2023. But a new study has revealed that drivers are flirting with fines and penalty points by indulging in 1 of 12 ‘bad habits’ while driving. And more than half of drivers asked (50%) said they’ve done at least one of the behaviours that could lead to fines.
Confused.com motor insurance experts surveyed over 2,000 drivers across the UK to determine how often they engage in potentially illegal habits while driving. These range from driving with an unrestrained pet, to tailgating, or splashing pedestrians. Confused.com’s motor insurance experts also asked drivers whether they knew the consequences of their bad habits behind the wheel.
Of the 12 surveyed habits, splashing pedestrians carries the largest maximum fine.This is because it could be considered as driving without due care and attention under Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Drivers can get a fine of up to £5,000 and 3 points on their licence if they’re caught.
More than 6 in 10 drivers (62%) know splashing a pedestrian carries a fine. But this doesn’t stop almost a third (30%) of drivers who admitted to doing this.
While the majority knew that splashing pedestrians carried a fine, estimates for the fine amount were considerably wrong. The average estimated fine for this offence was just £182 – the joint-lowest across all 12 fineable habits and over £4800 short of the actual maximum fine.
Fines for these common driving offences were determined using a driving fines calculator created by Confused.com. For the 5 habits with the largest fines, the overall awareness and estimates of these fines by drivers were:
Habit Percentage of drivers aware they could be fined Average estimated fine Maximum fine Difference Splashing pedestrians 62% £182.00 £5,000.00 -£4,818.00 Drive with an unrestrained pet 71% £242.00 £2,500.00 -£2,258.00 Make a profit from passengers 43% £182.00 £2,500.00 -£2,318.00 Drive without a properly displayed number plate 91% £324.00 £1,000.00 -£676.00 Flash another driver to warn of a speed trap 60% £202.00 £1,000.00 -£798.00
The majority (80%) of drivers surveyed were aware that some of these habits could earn them penalty points in addition to fines. Across the 8 offences that risk a points penalty, 2 in 3 drivers said they‘d done at least one.
Louise Thomas, motor expert at Confused.com car insurance comments, “Our research indicates that most drivers are aware that some of their behaviours can carry fines or penalty points. But many still engage in these bad habits regardless and run the risk of penalties.
“Drivers also tend to underestimate the punishment if any of these bad habits cause them to drive carelessly or dangerously. For example, having an unrestrained pet that could distract a driver.
“In addition to paying a fine, points on your licence are likely to make your car insurance costs go up. In some cases, drivers with driving convictions might find their car insurance options are limited.”