Car Insurance: Careless Brits flout basic driving laws

September 23, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Careless British drivers are putting themselves at serious risk of injury, prosecution, or invalidating their Car Insurance by failing to abide by essential driving laws. While many motorists may boast a "clean" driving licence, over half (53 percent) of UK drivers are actually disregarding important motoring laws on a regular basis, according to figures released today by Hastings Direct Insurance.

The research, carried out amongst 3,000 drivers in the UK, also reveals that:
* Almost one in 10 motorists (9 percent) fail to recognise basic driving illegalities, such as the fact that they can be prosecuted for eating or drinking at the wheel, that it's illegal to drive with a dirty number plate in case the digits are obstructed, and that there is a legal limit for tinted windows - all of which could lead to a hefty fine if caught
* Despite 61 percent of UK drivers saying that they know it is illegal to light a cigarette while driving, over one in seven still do it on a regular basis (14 percent). Staggeringly, this means almost 3 million (2,917,200*) smokers regularly light up behind the wheel illegally
* Nearly half of UK motorists (46 percent) don't know that it is illegal to drive without anti-freeze in the winter particularly worrying as we approach the winter months

Hastings Direct trading director, Mat Shepherd comments: "It's particularly concerning that such a significant number of drivers are regularly flouting even the most basic rules of the road particularly as many of these are enforced not only for their safety, but that of their passengers and other motorists too. Worryingly it looks like this is down to either a lack of knowledge of day-to-day driving laws or a lack of care to abide by them.

"It really is important that if they don't already, drivers take the time to understand the dos and don'ts of the roads - and take these seriously. If not, they could not only risk invalidating their insurance policy should they have an accident under such circumstances, but could also face prosecution if they are caught."

In addition, when asked what they think should be illegal but currently isn't, seven out of 10 people said that putting make-up on whilst driving should be banned. This is closely followed by 52 per cent of people who believe that 'boy racer' modifications such as loud exhaust pipes and spoilers should be made illegal.

Regionally, Welsh motorists admit to being the biggest driving offenders with 62 per cent regularly ignoring driving laws while behind the wheel nine per cent more than the national average. Those in the South East are less likely to be seen flouting the law, yet 45 per cent still admit to regularly disregarding the law. And older really is wiser, as almost three quarters of over 56-year-olds (74 per cent) say they never break the law while driving, compared to just 39 per cent of 19 to 25-year-olds.

Notes to editors

Total sample size was 3,000 UK license holders aged 18-51+. Fieldwork was undertaken 14th 17th August 2009. The survey was carried out online.

*Figures based on there being 34 million drivers in the UK (ONS figures) and 22 percent of UK adults are smokers (NHS Information Centre)

Research overview:

The UK's top three driving misdemeanours:
* Drinking /eating at the wheel (38%)
* Light cigarettes while driving (14%)
* Beep their car horn in between 11.30pm and 7am (8%)

Brits top three driving gripes:
* Drivers who don't indicate (42%)
* Road rage (22%)
* People who drive too slowly (14%)

About Hastings Direct

* Hastings Direct, a division of Hastings Insurance Services Limited, is a UK broker providing insurance policies and related products by phone and on the internet. Launched in 1997 offering customers private car insurance, our product range has been extended to include home and motorcycle insurance, as well as a full range of additional products, such as motor breakdown cover and travel insurance.
* In February 2009, Hastings Insurance Services Limited was bought by its management from Insurance Australia Group (IAG), presenting an exciting opportunity to develop the company as one of the UK's leading insurance providers, whilst the Hastings commitment to quality service ensures long term security for its customers.