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Four in five motorists have ‘diced with death’ behind the wheel by taking risks

Four in five motorists have ‘diced with death’ by taking unnecessary risks on the road, including drink and drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt and posting selfies, according to a new survey by a law firm.

Some 2,000 licence holders were polled about bad habits behind the wheel, finding that a worrying number appear to have a ‘lackadaisical approach to road safety’. 

More than a fifth have driven while over the alcohol limit, 17 per cent have hit the road after taking drugs and 13 per cent have travelled without wearing a seatbelt, according to the study.

A fifth have sent text messages, nearly one in 10 have checked social media and 6 per cent have taken selfies – all while driving.

‘A lackadaisical approach to road safety’: A survey of 2,000 motorists found that four in five have taken unnecessary risks behind the wheel

Motorists were asked if they had ever broken any of 22 rules while driving, with just 21 per cent of the panel saying they had not breached a single one of the misdemeanors and laws listed. 

It means 79 per cent of those surveyed had taken a risk on the road by performing one of the driving no-nos. 

Commissioned by First4Lawyers, the research also found a third of motorists didn’t think they were ready to have a full licence when they passed their test. 

The study also found 23 per cent have gone through red lights, 12 per cent have driven in the dark without their lights on, and 11 per cent have taken to the road in a vehicle with an expired MOT.

More than one in 10 have overtaken vehicles when it wasn’t safe to do so, three in 10 have driven while sleepy and seven per cent journeyed with an overloaded vehicle.

Number of drivers who admit to taking these risks behind the wheel 

1. Exceeded the speed limit (55%)

2. Driven while sleepy (30%)

3. Driven when ice on their windscreen hasn’t fully defrosted (29%)

4. Undertaken vehicles i.e. overtaken a vehicle on its left-hand side (24%)

5. Driven through a red light (23%)

=6. Driven after exceeding the alcohol limit (21%)

=6. Stayed in the middle lane when the left hand and right hand lanes are empty (21%)

8. Driven after taking recreational drugs (17%)

9. Taken/made phone calls without using ‘hands free’ (16%)

=10. Not worn a seatbelt (13 per cent)

=10. Not adjusted their speed when driving in wet conditions (13%)

12. Driven in the dark without their lights on (12%)

=13. Driven a vehicle with an expired MOT (11%)

=13. Overtaken vehicles when it wasn’t safe to do so (11%)

15. Driven with too many passengers in the car (10%)

16. Checked social media while driving (8%)

17. Driven with an unsafe load or overloaded vehicle (7%)

=18. Driven without insurance (6%)

=18. Taken selfies while driving (6%)

=20. Posted on social media while driving (5%)

=20. Watched a video while driving (5%)

=20. Videoed themselves while driving (5%)

Drivers who said they have taken not one of these risk (21%) 

Source: OnePoll survey of 2,000 UK motorists commissioned by First4Lawyers 

The report comes in the wake of reported DVLA figures showing that almost 100,000 UK motorists currently have between nine and 11 points on their licence, putting them one offence away from a driving ban. 

The study found a concerning trend of drink and drug driving, especially among the youngest licence holders.

Of all motorists who said they have taken narcotics and then driven, cannabis is most common (47 per cent), followed by amphetamines, ecstasy, and cocaine (all 31 per cent).

And those aged 25 to 34 came top for the number of motorists who’ve taken drugs before getting behind the wheel, with 31 per cent holding their hands up.

However those aged 17 to 24 are most likely to exceed the alcohol limit before taking to the road (20 per cent).

The findings might explain why three quarters of all those polled think there should be higher penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

However, more than a third admitted they don’t know for sure what the alcohol limit is. 

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. In Scotland, the limit is lower at 50 milligrammes.

But just eight per cent correctly stated the England, Wales, and Northern Ireland limit. Only 10 per cent knew the Scottish limit.

Although, reassuringly, most thought the threshold was lower.

It also emerged, many of those polled aren’t entirely certain how many units are in a pint of beer (46 per cent), a glass of wine (50 per cent) or a measure of spirits (53 per cent).

Collectively, this may explain why seven in 10 think motorists shouldn’t be able to drink any booze before driving. 

Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers said the study reveals the ‘hugely worrying’ number of motorists on the road who are willing to take unnecessary risks that put themselves and other road users in danger.

‘It’s easy to develop an “it won’t happen to me” attitude when driving – especially if you’re an experienced driver or have never been involved in an accident before,’ he explained.

‘However road vehicles really are potentially lethal – it simply isn’t worth taking the risks – at the very minimum you could end up with points on your licence.

‘But the reality of taking unnecessary risks whilst driving is often far worse and can have catastrophic consequences, not only for yourself, but for other road users too.’ 

Some 6% of drivers have taken selfies and 5% have recorded a video of themselves behind the wheel, the study revealed

Some 6% of drivers have taken selfies and 5% have recorded a video of themselves behind the wheel, the study revealed

The study – conducted by OnePoll – also found three in 10 drivers believe UK roads are not safe to drive on.

Around three quarters have felt intimidated by other motorists at one time or another – although 26 per cent admitted to knowingly intimidating others themselves.

More than a quarter have been in an accident where they were the driver during the past five years.

However, 54 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 have been involved in a traffic collision in that same period of time – more than any other age group. 

Mr Anwar added: ‘Driving can be – and should be – a safe and enjoyable experience.

‘However as the findings show, there are those who are taking risks and could be ruining it for everyone else.

‘Not all accidents are necessarily preventable but many are – and all drivers have a role to play in making UK roads and highways safer.’ 

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