Top 12 worst driving habits
There’s no shortage of infuriating driving habits and manoeuvres. But what are the 12 worst, and most relatively common, on the road?
Avoiding bad drivers can be difficult with so many cars on UK roads.
You’d think most lousy motorists would be self-aware enough to know that what they’re doing wouldn’t endear them to their driving instructor.
Encountering any of the most annoying driving habits is more than just unlucky for some.
At one point or another all drivers will likely have been subjected to appalling and sometimes unlawful driving. Or, at the very least, seen it up close.
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What is careless driving?
Careless driving is defined in the Highway Code as:
Driving without due care and attention
Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.
The Code may be a set of guidelines rather than the law.
But the police draw on it when determining whether a driver has committed an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988. The Act classes careless, and inconsiderate, driving as follows:
“If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he (sic) is guilty of an offence.”
Penalties for driving-related offences
If the police decide that you’ve committed an offence, the outcome could be anything from:
A spot fine from £100
Three points on your driving licence
Up to £5,000 fine with nine points added to your licence.
You could also face a ban and for serious offences, such as causing death by dangerous driving, up to 14-years imprisonment.
12 of the worst driving habits
There’s always a chance that bad driving could result in injury or death to an innocent person.
This is undoubtedly one of the main reasons people get so irate about terrible or reckless driving habits.
With this in mind, we present a dozen of the most inconsiderate or downright dangerous driving habits that many of us deal with on a regular basis.
There are many other dodgy behaviours behind the wheel that didn’t make the list, such as honking horns and revving up at junctions.
But few people would surely quibble the following rogues’ gallery of appalling driving practices.
Unlike some of the others listed here, tailgating is not only profoundly irritating, but also dangerous.
This is because it tends to be on motorways and dual carriageways, that another motorist will attempt to pressurise you to move over.
The main issues here are that the driver being pressurised may spend too much time looking in their rear mirror. And rising anxiety could lead to mistakes, such as speeding up to pacify the bully behind.
Also, if incident happens ahead, and you have to brake, the tailgater could then ram into your car.
The best solution is to safely move into a different lane to let them pass.
If you can’t, you could gradually slow down to a still sensible speed. Then, if a tailgater does slam into your car there’s less chance of grievous injury or significant damage.
This may annoy the driver behind, but it’s a safer course of action.
Hogging the middle lane
Driving in the middle lane rather than moving over to the left lane could cause a huge tailback on motorways, ratcheting up the stress levels.
It could lead to accidents, as drivers take chances to slip into the outside lane, causing cars in that lane to brake sharply.
Anyone hogging the middle lane would be in breach of Part 264 of the Highway Code. They could face a £100 spot fine and three points on their licence.
Hogging the outside lane
The two previous examples of poor driving can prompt drivers to pass a lane hog by undertaking, which means passing on the left.
This isn’t illegal in itself unless it is deemed dangerous. But it could cause accidents if the car being passed, or one further ahead, moves to their left.
Driving with full-beam lamps
It‘s not illegal to drive with full-beam lights on, but it is inconsiderate to fellow road users who can be blinded by the light.
It can be dangerous both to other drivers, and of course to the person leaving full-beam on, as an oncoming vehicle could swerve into their path.
Failing to indicate
Failing to indicate when changing direction is another annoying and potentially dangerous habit. It’s not illegal, but nevertheless it’s to be avoided.
One reason this makes the list is that many bad drivers can’t be bothered to indicate even when other road users are present.
Often they don’t flick the indicator lever if they’re turning into a side road. As you can imagine, this is annoying if you’re waiting for an opportunity to turn into the main road.
On the flip side, indicating doesn’t give motorists the right to act, it just shows an intention.
You can’t force your way into traffic just because your indicators are on. And don’t forget you still need to give way to pedestrians who might be crossing.
Jumping traffic lights
Running a red light can be dangerous to other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians. It’s also illegal.
Even if you just cross the white line at traffic lights, you risk a minimum of three points and a £100 fine.
Moving away slowly from traffic lights
Slowly moving off when the traffic lights change isn’t illegal. But it could annoy other drivers, especially only one or two cars manage to cross before the lights change red again.
Also, it could be dangerous. A frustrated driver following the snail-like car might look for an opportunity to overtake when it’s not safe to do so.
Slamming the brakes, or brake checking, is only allowed to avoid a serious and imminent accident, such as a child running into the road.
In most other instances, including to ward off tailgaters, it’s an offence that could result in:
Points on your licence
An unlimited fine
Up to two-years in prison.
Brake checking could result in a higher penalty, even a custodial sentence, in certain circumstances.
For instance, if a driver deliberately intended to cause a crash so they could claim on the other drivers’ insurance.
In this case, the offence would be ‘crash-for-cash' fraud, which is serious and likely to lead to a prison sentence.
With so many cars on the road it seems common sense to try to make driving as stress-free as possible.
Blocking roads so drivers can’t make a right turn, and needlessly hold up all the traffic behind, is not on.
The same goes for stopping in box junctions, which are there to help the flow of traffic.
It’s a selfish action that really can enrage even the most normally-passive driver. And it's illegal, with guilty parties facing a fine of up to £130.
Parking on the pavement
Drivers who park their cars on pavements, to the extent that pedestrians, wheelchair users and parents with prams can’t pass, can be a menace.
Not only is it downright inconsiderate, it could be dangerous to the pedestrian. This could be particularly bad for people with visual impairments, who may be forced to pass the car on the road.
Parking on the pavement isn’t illegal outside of London. But there are plans to introduce a change in the law to make ‘Unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’ illegal.
It’s a different matter when it comes to driving onto the pavement to park.
Drivers who do so face a fine and may have their car towed away. This action has been illegal since the creation of the Highways Act 1835, and is now in Part 145 of the Highway Code.
Using hazard lights to excuse bad parking
One that makes people feel like tearing their hair out is when drivers park badly, stick their hazard lights on, and block traffic.
It could be frustrating for many to be stuck behind a car parked in this way, and potentially dangerous. Part 116 of the Highway Code covers hazard lights and states: “Never use them as an excuse for dangerous or illegal parking.”
Why take the risk?
Not all of these examples of bad driving could land the driver in hot water with the police, but that’s not the point.
Who wants to risk getting stopped by a blue light, or even earning a reputation as a bad driver?
Points on your licence could result in higher car insurance costs in the future. So save your wallet, and play nice with other drivers.