Half of drivers witness speeding on journeys, but only 15% admitted to breaking the limit

A black sports car turns in to a corner. Autumn leaves are on the road and in the background blur.

One third (33%) of drivers do not think they have picked up any bad habits like speeding since they first learnt to drive, despite 57% regularly seeing other drivers speeding1, according to an AA Driving School survey of 13,000.

A sixth (15%) of qualified drivers admitted to having a habit of driving above the speed limit, rising to 17% for drivers aged 65 and older. Concerningly, 3% said they had stopped checking their blind spots and 2% said they don’t always leave safe distance from the vehicle in front.

Most alarming among those who admitted to developing bad habits, 38% said they stopped using the handbrake when stationary in traffic. Younger drivers were most likely to stop this habit (50%, 25-34s), which could be connected to the introduction of electronic handbrakes.

It was alarming that 45 people said they had stopped wearing their seatbelt after passing their driving test. Drivers can be fined up to £500 for not wearing a seatbelt2 and almost one third of car occupants killed are not belted up.

Bad behaviour seen on the road didn’t always reflect what drivers said about their own habits. Three in five drivers (64%) had seen another driver use a phone at the wheel in the past year, at least once or twice. A further quarter (25%) said they had seen the behaviour once a week or more. Drivers can get six penalty points and a £200 fine if they are found using a mobile phone3.

Breakdown of driving behaviour seen once a week or on most journeys, in the past 12 months:

  1. Another driver breaking the speed limit – 57%
  2. Another driver using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel – 27%
  3. I have been a car passenger when the driver broke the speed limit – 18%
  4. Saw someone driving without a seatbelt – 5%
  5. I have been a car passenger when the driver used a phone at the wheel – 4%

Camilla Benitz, Managing Director of AA Driving School said: “It’s often easier to notice bad habits in others rather than ourselves, but this data clearly shows drivers need to pay attention to their own bad habits as well.

“Speeding, whether over the limit or excessive for the conditions, using your phone at the wheel, or not wearing a seatbelt, all put you and other road users at risk and bring the chance of fines, penalty points or worse.

“Not driving at the right speed is one of the top ten faults learners make on driving tests*, which shows it’s a key skill for drivers to master and one not everyone finds easy to maintain once they have passed their test.

“Some driving test faults are brought on by nerves, but others can indicate the beginnings of a bad habit as a qualified driver and it’s why having the right attitude is key – you don’t stop learning to drive after passing your test.

“Keeping your skills up-to-date and recognising the risks are so important. Refresher lessons are a quick way to polish driving skills if there are concerns.”

Those aged 65 and older were most likely to say they have not picked up any bad habits since learning to drive (38%).

Top 10 driving test faults in 2022:

  1. Junctions (observation)
  2. Mirrors – (change direction)
  3. Junctions (turning right)
  4. Response to signals (traffic lights)
  5. Control (steering)
  6. Move off (safely)
  7. Response to signals (traffic signs)
  8. Positioning (normal driving)
  9. Response to signals (road markings)
  10. Progress (appropriate speed)

Find a local driving instructor for refresher lessons at theaa.com/driving-school

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