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How's our driving?

How's our driving?

You can make a lot of stereotypes about the people of the UK – we love queuing, fish and chips, and fairly unexciting biscuits with our tea – but our driving habits are fairly careful and considered. Irritated-yet-polite honking? Stubbornly sticking to driving on the left? We can't think of too much else – which is surely a good thing! We're actually in the top ten safest countries in the world for fatalities on the road, according to a recent International Transport Forum report. So, well done us!

We may be a safe bunch, by and large, but we still wanted to find out a bit more about exactly what happens on the UK's roads – so we carried out a survey our driving habits. As with most things, from the names of bread products to informal greetings, the way we drive varies from region to region, so read on and find out everything you'll ever need to defend British driving, wherever you are.

The law's on our side

First things first – we were very glad to discover that we're a law-abiding nation! Only one in five people we surveyed (19%) currently had any points on their license, and a tiny 5% had ever earned more than six – the number that will earn you a ban in your first two years on the road.

The second-most common number of points, after zero, was three – the number you get for speeding. Just over a third (37%) of us in the UK have had a speeding fine in our driving lives but, given that just 5% of the people we surveyed currently had three points on their licenses, it seems most speeders learn their lessons fairly quickly, and end up with clean sheets once again in four years.

As we said, though, it varies from region to region. Folks in Scotland have the cleanest licenses of all – 92% don't have a single point, but in the North East less than two-thirds (64%) have a clean sheet.

The East Midlands have the most speeding fines, though – 41% have been caught breaking the limit. Scotland, once again, are the best behaved – just 29% have had a speeding fine.

We're a bit worse for dodgy parking, though, all over the UK – 40% of those we surveyed had had a parking fine before. Still, that's less than half – just watch out for those yellow lines, restricted times, etc.

This time it's Wales who come out in front – less than a third (31%) have had a "tocyn parcio" – that's Welsh for parking ticket. However, in Northern Ireland, 60% have had a "ticéad páirceála" – the highest in the UK.

Good and bad habits

So, it looks like Scotland sticks to the speed limit, and Wales parks responsibly. The East Midlands is always in a hurry, and Northern Ireland parks up as it pleases. But what else do we do right – or wrong?

First, we asked everyone to be honest, and tell us what they think they're worst at – so here we have the UK's worst driving habits, as suggested by yourselves. As you'll see, the percentages of people who think they're bad at each one are still quite low – so we're either pretty good drivers, or pretty poor at self-assessment.

  1. Poor parallel parking - 34% across the UK, and highest in East Anglia at 40%.

  2. Keeping to the speed limit – 29% across the UK, and highest in Yorkshire at 40%. While the North East had the most tickets, only 25% recognised they were going too fast. Maybe that's the problem?

  3. Keeping a safe distance from the car in front – 14% across the UK, and highest in the South West at 18%.

  4. Going too slowly – 14% across the UK, and highest in London at 19%. The urban sprawl makes for an urban crawl?

  5. Stopping in a yellow box junction – 14% across the UK, and again highest in London in 19%. Perhaps there's just not enough room to stay out of them?

We also asked the UK's drivers what annoys them the most about other drivers – because if there's one thing we're great at, it's judging everyone else…

  1. Driving too close – 84% across the UK, and highest in the South West at 87%. Oddly, it's much less in London than everywhere else, at just 77% - it's a fact of life in the city, surely, but much more annoying on those Southern country roads!

  2. Using phone whilst driving – 84% across the UK, and rightly so because of how dangerous it is. It's highest in the West Midlands at 89%.

  3. Not stopping at zebra crossing – 72% across the UK, and highest in the North East at 82%. Folks in London care about this one much less, with just over two-thirds (67%) saying it really annoyed them.

  4. Driving too slowly – 71% across the UK, and highest in Yorkshire at 80%. As 40% of Yorkshire admits to having a problem slowing down, it's not all that surprising that they can be impatient up North!

  5. Generally poor parking in spaces – 68% across the UK are irked by cars not quite fitting in the lines, and it's highest at 70% in the North East.

So there we have it – the way we drive across the UK. Although we're generally a very safe, law-abiding group of citizens, the individual things that bother us, and that we admit we do wrong, vary quite differently from place to place. What do you think – have we got your region right?

For some useful tips on driving economically, click here