Driven to distraction by our motoring bad habits

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FROM tailgaiting to using a mobile phone behind the wheel, motorists’ bad habits are driving other road users to despair, according to a new survey.

Eighty-five per cent of drivers said tailgating – driving too close to the car in front – was their biggest worry on the motorway.

Two-thirds of people said people talking on their mobile phones while driving was a cause for concern, in the survey by Gem Motoring Assist.

Motorists said cars using the middle lane, despite the left hand lane being empty, was the third biggest threat to their safety.

And, perhaps surprisingly, driving too slowly ranked as a greater danger than speeding – much to the displeasure of Gem, which is “strongly against” Government suggestions that the national speed limit could be raised to 80mph on motorways.

A spokesman for Safe Speed Northumbria said: “When people are driving they should drive to the conditions around them. If someone is driving under the speed limit in a 30mph zone then it probably will not be a problem.

“If they are driving on a motorway at 50mph it can be an issue and it suggests that they have a lack of confidence.

“I would say that speeding on fast roads is still an issue, but it is a driver’s awareness of what is around them that prevents collisions.

“With the Government proposal, the problem is that you will get people who are not confident going less than 70mph in the left lane, and people doing 90mph in the outside lane, which will create a huge gap in speeds in areas where cars are competing for space.”

Leighton Cook, 23, from Hendon, thinks the list of drivers’ safety fears is accurate.

He said: “People cutting me up without indicating is very dangerous.”

The Etec worker also agrees that going too slowly is more dangerous than speeding, saying: “Obviously excessive speed is bad, but if you are only doing five or 10 miles an hour over the speed limit on a motorway it doesn’t make much difference.

“But lots of people drive too slowly, Sunday drivers shouldn’t use fast roads.”

In another part of the survey, 70 per cent of participants said they do not take any extra precautions before using the motorway.

Gem advises that both tyre pressure and water levels should be checked before such a journey is taken. David Williams, CEO of Gem Motoring Assist, said: “Drivers need to make sure they are taking every precaution if they are planning to use a motorway and be fully aware of the dangers.

“We believe that bad motorway driving such as tailgating and driving in the middle lane when the left hand lane is empty should definitely be more strictly enforced as it is the kind of careless driving that can lead to frustration, annoyance and possible accidents.”

The public also took a swipe at learner drivers, with 83 per cent of the people questioned saying that they should not be able to practise on fast roads. They also suggested that there should be a secondary driving test to assess motorway skills.