All motorists know how they should drive — they wouldn't have passed their practical test otherwise — but that doesn't stop some people taking unnecessary risks behind the wheel. Sometimes the decisions made on the road might border on the unconscious, research unearthed this week reveals. However, those instinctive choices could be putting you and other drivers in danger, say the authors of the research.
When a vehicle pulls up to a junction waiting to be let out, you might think that your decision whether to wave them through or not is based on not much at all. However, a new survey suggests that drivers are giving their fellow road users the once over before deciding whether to oblige.
In fact, Continental Tyres, who carried out the study, say that as many as 16 million drivers might be letting "aesthetic" reasons influence their driving.
The tyre specialists came to that conclusion after 45% of the 2,000 drivers it questioned admitted that appearance played a part in how considerate they are to other drivers.
One particularly interesting admission by drivers was that catching site of a rival sports team's bumper sticker causes them irritation, with as many as six in ten respondents saying as much.
Mark Griffiths, spokesman for Continental Tyres, said it's only human nature to form opinions of people, even if they are without much substance, but drivers cannot let these opinions dictate how they drive.
In the rush to get from A to B, drivers are ignoring their instincts to sleep and stepping behind the wheel tired, according to a new survey.
It perhaps comes as little surprise that 61% of drivers admitted to YouGov that they have driven when their body is telling them not to, but that doesn't make the findings any less worrying, says claims.co.uk, who commissioned the research.
The admission by the Scottish drivers who were questioned might help explain why data from the Department for Transport shows that tiredness is a contributing factor in one of every five accidents that take place in the UK.
The figure could potentially be even higher, if drivers were to be brutally honest with themselves.
The study also revealed how drivers' concentration on the road ahead is being further drained by mobile phones, with more than a quarter of respondents admitting they have made an illegal call at the wheel.
"Time and time again we see a whole host of road traffic accidents which could have been avoided if drivers stopped using their mobile phones as well as being more alert when driving," stressed John Quail, managing director of claims.co.uk.
Back in 2009, Highways England spent £2.2 million acquiring "accident screens" in order to prevent drivers from rubbernecking as they pass the scene of an incident.
Yet, according to the Independent, those screens have been deployed only 77 times on busy roads in the last couple of years, despite rubbernecking estimated to cost the UK economy £750 million a year in secondary low-speed crashes.
A Freedom of Information request reveals that since April 2013, the UK's three busiest motorways — the M1, M25 and M6 — have seen the screens used just 18 times.
Many might have expected to see the fences deployed more often in recent years, especially given the more modern temptation for drivers to capture accident footage on a smartphone.
When drivers were asked by Confused.com how often they believe police should erect fences around an accident scene, 27% said that they should be put in place each and every time.
That might be because 15% of respondents said they have seen a fellow motorist whip out their phone to take a picture of a crash scene.
Those caught with their smartphone in hand could face charges of careless driving, which carries a maximum £5,000 fine and up to nine penalty points.
We wrap-up this week's motoring news round-up by looking at a story which has rumbled on for no less than two years and concerns the vulnerabilities of keyless ignition systems.
In 2013, researchers were ready to publish a report warning the public about the risks of keyless cars. However, Volkswagen successfully applied for an injunction in the High Court preventing the academic paper from seeing the light of day.
As the RAC reports, however, it has now withdrawn its objection, meaning the paper could be about to make its way into the public domain.
Audi, Fiat, Honda, Volvo and Volkswagen were among the car manufacturers cited in the paper to be vulnerable to keyless theft.
The researchers hope that by highlighting the weaknesses in keyless ignition systems, manufacturers will make vehicle security a priority, thus limiting a criminal's ability for theft.
© M2 Bespoke 2015