Unfamiliar roads more alarming than cyclists, finds RED Driving School

These days, roads are more likely to inspire jitters than rage, according to the latest survey by RED Driving School, which found unfamiliar roads were more of a factor than cyclists for drivers.

The top factors making drivers nervous included, unfamiliar roads with 38%, other drivers 35%, cyclists 17%, night driving 9% and pedestrians just 1%

The top factors making drivers nervous included, unfamiliar roads with 38%, other drivers 35%, cyclists 17%, night driving 9% and pedestrians just 1%

The poll asked road users across the country what made them most nervous when driving. Despite the high anxiety among drivers about roads, it seems statistically that there are more prevalent dangers on UK roads.

Figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) reveal that the road environment (for example, defective road surfaces or faulty traffic signals) contributed to just 12.6% of reported roads accidents in the UK between 2013 and 2017. By contrast, drivers making a careless error contributed to 71.4% of accidents over the same period.

Meanwhile, drivers are at risk of underestimating bigger hazards while driving. Fewer than one-in-ten (9%) were worried about driving at night – despite research indicating that more than 40% of all road accidents occur at that time.

The top factors making drivers nervous included, unfamiliar roads with 38%, other drivers 35%, cyclists 17%, night driving 9% and pedestrians just 1%.

Playing music was the method of choice of the largest number of respondents – one-in-four – yet conversely a similar number (18%) found turning music off the best method to maintain calm driving.

The traditional calming methods of soothing spray and deep breathing were used by very few people – only 2% each – while one in 10 are entirely resigned to the view that nothing can calm their nerves.

Ian McIntosh, CEO at RED Driving School, said: “Given the variety of roads in the UK, it’s understandable they can make some drivers nervous. That’s why, when taking a route for the first time, research is key. Look at the type of road you’ll be driving on and consider whether you might prefer another route. If you feel the nerves are getting to you, avoid caffeine and instead take small steps like slow breathing and opening the window to keep relaxed and focused.

“But the data shouldn’t be ignored amid the angst. Night driving and carelessness at the wheel are the two big causes of accidents on the roads today. The Government wants to deal with these by restricting driving via graduated licencing. But there’s no replacement for thorough training followed later-on by refresher courses which can help re-build familiarity and confidence amid a changing driving landscape.”

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.

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