Speed, distraction viewed as biggest threats to safety

UK survey asked respondents to rate six examples of risky behavior

Published: November 20, 2016, 5:00 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:21 PM

Winter driving - night

As the UK heads into its Road Safety Week, a survey of 1,000 drivers has identified the driving behavior that frightens most road users, and it isn’t drinking and driving.

According to Brake’s Road Safety Week survey, conducted by road safety charity Brake, Aviva and Specsavers, 76% of surveyed drivers said speeding or distraction are the biggest threats to road safety, while drunk or drugged drivers was chosen as the biggest problem by just 18% of respondents.

The survey asked respondents to rate six examples of risky behavior, with the three remaining threats being vehicle emissions (chosen by 3% of respondents), poor vision (2%), and not wearing seatbelts (1%).

It’s worthy of mention that age did seem to play a role in how the threats were perceived, with drivers younger than 44 saying speed was the biggest threat, while those 45 and older said distraction was the worst menace. Also, although just 3% rated emissions as the biggest threat, 10% of those aged 18-24 considered it the biggest.

When asked to be introspective, 79% of respondents admitted to taking risks while driving — 63% of them admitted to speeding; 45% admitted to adding to the carbon footprint by driving extremely short distances; 13% admitted driving while distracted; and 9% said they didn’t always wear seatbelts, or allowed their passengers to not wear seatbelts.

By demographics, respondents over the age of 45 were more likely to admit to speeding, while those 44 and younger admitted to driving distracted, drunk, drugged or without a seatbelt. And in case you didn’t notice, drivers 44 and younger admitted to distracted driving and thought speeding was the bigger threat, while those 45 and older thought and acted in a converse manner.

“Our survey shows that drivers are aware of the threat of risky behavior by other drivers, but are inclined to play down the riskiness of their own behaviours,” said Gary Rae, director of communication and campaigns for Brake. “Everyone who drives has to step up and take responsibility. If every driver vowed to slow down, never drink alcohol or take drugs, never use their phones or other devices, always use seat belts and child restraints, drive when fit to do so, and minimise driving, then our roads would be safer places for everyone.”

The survey was built around Brake’s six “S”s of safety — Slow (speed is a factor in 26% of fatal crashes); Sober (one in seven road deaths involves an impaired driver); Secure (22% of traffic deaths involve an unbelted vehicle occupant); Silent (drivers distracted by cell phones or infotainment systems are four times more likely to crash); Sharp (an estimated 2,900 casualties are caused by poor driver vision); and Sustainable (an estimated 40,000 deaths annually are attributable to air pollution).

“This new research echoes what we have also found at Aviva; that we are all inclined to think that bad driving is down to someone else,” concluded Peter Markey, Brand and Marketing Communications Director for Aviva. “While most people act safely and sensibly behind the wheel, there are times when it’s easy to get distracted, which can have catastrophic consequences.”