Pothole Peril – UK drivers are putting lives at risk by drifting onto the wrong side of the road to avoid bumps in the road. That’s according to damning new research into a worrying trend of dangerous driving in the country.
As part of our ongoing primary research study focusing on the habits of UK drivers, we found that a quarter - 23 per cent – of motorists had noticed how ‘other drivers are drifting in their lane or accidentally driving over the middle divider line much more frequently’.
Asked whether they’d accidentally driven across the middle divider line while navigating a route, 21 per cent admitted they had
Respondents also lifted the lid on the reasons they risk endangering safety on the road.
Of the fifth of motorists who admitted drifting lanes, the avoidance of potholes, puddles and bumps was the biggest factor, with 74 per cent of responses - despite the fact they can result in a head on crash with a driver coming from the opposite direction.
Mark Tongue, company director of Select Car Leasing, urged those behind the wheel to beware of the dangers associated with swaying between lanes. He said: “When you think of ‘road hogging’, you immediately think of those who sit in the middle lane of the motorway, causing a backlog and mayhem behind them.
“But our research shows a growing trend for motorists to also hog lanes on single carriageways. By its very nature it’s incredibly dangerous to end up on the wrong side of the road with a flow of traffic coming towards you. Whether it’s potholes, cutting the corner, trying to take a ‘racing line’, or pure laziness, there’s never an excuse to drift from your side of the road unless it’s a planned overtaking manoeuvre.
“We fear it’s a modern driving habit that’s becoming more and more ubiquitous. We’d previously seen anecdotal evidence in discussion on motoring forums - and now it’s been confirmed by our survey data.”
The study saw 1,200 respondents - male and female aged between 18 and 65 - quizzed about their four-wheeled habits through OnePoll. A huge section of lane drifters - 17 per cent - admitted doing so to ‘make their journey quicker’, ie, taking the better driving line. While 14 per cent of responses admitted they were ‘distracted by in-car tech’, such as stereo systems and smartphone integration. And - most disturbingly - 10 per cent said they veered across the white line dividing the middle of road because they’d had a moment of ‘micro-sleep’ and had nodded off.
Mr Tongue adds: “You might think you’re being clever by taking a better line, or that a momentary lapse won’t matter, but ask the emergency services and they’ll tell you these bad driving habits can have devastating effects. We’d urge motorists to make all efforts to stay on their own side of the road to reduce the risk of collision.”
While there’s no specific offence of ‘being on the wrong side of the road’, any motorist caught doing so could be charged with ‘driving without due care and attention’ or ‘reckless or dangerous driving’ and hit with a fine, points on their license or disqualification from driving. Meanwhile, the RAC also recently called for a tougher crackdown on mobile phone offenders.
Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: "It is very telling that convictions for drivers caught using a handheld phone at the wheel have been on a downward trajectory for years, as the number of traffic officers has fallen by 30 per cent across the last 10 years and most drivers believe they are unlikely to be caught for any motoring offences other than speeding where it is an automatic camera which is detecting the crime.
"Our 2017 Report on Motoring identified a hard core of nine million persistent handheld phone drivers who continue to flout the law despite the doubling of the penalties in March 2017 to six points and a £200 fine.The only time you can legally use a hand-held phone is if you’re either parked safely, or you need to call 999 or 112 in 'an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop’"
Our prior study investigating the habits of UK motorists found female drivers were significantly more likely than males to illegally use their mobile phone while driving. The data showed 17 per cent of women admitted 'checking their phone' while driving, compared to 11 per cent of men. A further seven per cent of women said they had sent at least one text while in control of a vehicle - compared to four per cent of men.
Mr Tongue commented: “Road safety is everybody’s responsibility. And all calls or texts can wait when checking them can be the difference between living and dying. Texting and driving can land drivers six penalty points and a £200 fine, and can also cost the licence of those who have been driving for under two years."