It’s Road Safety Awareness Week, and car insurance company ASDA Money, which provides a car insurance comparison service, has revealed in a new study that drivers in Britain lack confidence when it comes to knowing their cars.
Whether new to driving, embarking on a long car journey, or just heading to a new destination, driving can sometimes make people a little anxious. With the summer ending, the colder weather and longer nights are beginning to creep in, and driving conditions will gradually get more challenging.
A new survey by Asda Money found that the average Brit drives 117.7 miles a week, but over a quarter (27%) don’t always feel confident behind the wheel. Over three-quarters (78%) claim to find the driving experience too stressful, and over half (56%) admit they don’t know anything about cars.
Men are typically the more confident drivers, with 83% feeling confident behind the wheel versus 62% of women. This is despite more than 1 in 10 men (14%) being told by their family and friends they are bad at driving, compared with just 7% of women.
The top five reasons Brits don’t feel confident on the roads are:
- Driving is too stressful (79%)
- Other drivers are too aggressive (49%)
- There are too many cars on the road (42%)
- Losing concentration (15%)
- Took a driving test a few times (12%)
Both cars and the roads can be unpredictable, and things like car breakdowns, confusing diversions, or even just taking a wrong turn can happen to anyone and can cause stress and anxiety for even the most experienced of drivers. In fact, 40% of Brits say that breaking down is one of the most stressful experiences, and an unlucky 68% have been in a car that has broken down, with more than a third (36%) experiencing it within the last 12 months.
When asked about basic car knowledge, the survey found that nearly two-thirds (60%) don’t know how to change a flat tyre, 1 in 3 (30%) don’t know how to open the bonnet, and 22% don’t even know how to turn their hazard lights on.
In an emergency, 3% would stand and cry until someone helped, and 5% would sit in the car, scared to get out. Men are much more likely to see if they could work out what the issue was (40% versus just 23% of women), while 18–29 year-olds would call their friends or family straight away for help.
More than half (62%) of males said they wouldn’t be confident they’d know what to do if their car stopped working as they don’t know anything about cars, while only 53% of women said the same. Those surveyed from Belfast are the least clued up on their cars with 83% agreeing they know nothing about car mechanics.
Some drivers admitted they avoid certain areas of the UK, with almost 1 in 10 avoiding the Lake District and 5% avoiding the Shetland Islands.
The top five things Brits don’t know about their cars:
- How to change a lightbulb (67%)
- How to change a tyre (60%)
- How to change the windscreen wipers (58%)
- How to check the tyre pressure (42%)
- How to check the water level (40%)
Interestingly, 24% of males have a breakdown kit in their car, but only 16% of female drivers carry one. Those living in Bristol are the least breakdown ready with only 8% carrying a full breakdown kit.
More than two-thirds (68%) have had a warning light flash up on their screen that they don’t recognise, with 1 in 10 leaving it alone in the hopes it would go off on its own. Over half (57%) of 45–59-year-olds said they would turn to the internet if they were presented with this.
To get road-ready and feel more confident behind the wheel, Asda Money has put together some top driving tips.
- Get to know your car. From fog lights to setting your windscreen wiper speed, knowing the functions of your car inside out can help a lot when it comes to being more confident behind the wheel.
- Prepare your route. One of the most important things while driving is staying focused. Planning your route beforehand can help alleviate stress and prepare you for roadwork or diversions.
- Know the basics of breakdown. Having basic breakdown knowledge, such as how to change a flat tyre and how to top up your car oil, alongside breakdown cover could save you from being stranded waiting for help and provide extra peace of mind whilst driving.
- Don’t worry about other drivers. While you should be aware of the other vehicles around you when driving, you don’t need to feel intimidated by them. Make sure to stick to the speed limit, drive carefully, and try not to worry about anyone else.
- Practise makes perfect. Like all skills, the best way to become more confident is to practise as much as possible. Taking short drives to build up to longer journeys and practising driving somewhere new can be a great way to build up your confidence.
- Know the rules inside out: Keeping up to date with the Highway Code and road rules in the area you are driving can help give you the knowledge and skills you need so that you can be assured you can get to and from your destination safely.
Edward Doherty at Asda Money comments: “With a lot of external factors at play on the road, the thought of driving long distances or driving to a new destination can sometimes feel overwhelming. It’s important to find balance and find a way to enjoy driving, whether that’s seeing the car as a place to take time to reflect or to appreciate the independence and time to yourself.
“By learning the rules of the road and how to handle unexpected bumps, like a breakdown, and mastering how to focus on your own driving and not those around you, you will no doubt find yourself becoming more confident behind the wheel with every drive you take. It’s great to see that 41% of Brits would call their insurance provider straight away in the event of a breakdown or car issue, and we strive to ensure all our customers can lean on us for support and information whenever they need it.”