Eight in 10 motorists have diced with death by taking risks while behind the wheel – including drink and drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and posting selfies.
Researchers who polled 2,000 drivers found a worrying number appear to have a lackadaisical approach to road safety.
More than a fifth (21%) have driven while over the alcohol limit, 17% have hit the road after taking drugs and 13% have travelled without wearing a seatbelt.
A fifth (20%) have sent text messages, nearly one in 10 (8%) have checked social media and 6% have taken selfies – all while driving.
Commissioned by First4Lawyers, the research also found a third of motorists (31%) didn't think they were ready to have a full licence when they passed their test.
Along with the research, the legal marketing collective has created an interactive driver attitudes and aptitudes test where motorists can find out how safe a road user they are.
Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers said: “The research shows the vast majority of drivers are safe and law-abiding but there is a hugely worrying number who are not.
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“It’s easy to develop an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude when driving – especially if you’re an experienced driver or have never been involved in an accident before.
“However road vehicles really are potentially lethal – it simply isn’t worth taking the risks – at the very minimum you could end up with points on your licence.
“But the reality of taking unnecessary risks whilst driving is often far worse and can have catastrophic consequences, not only for yourself, but for other road users too.”
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The study also found 23% have gone through red lights, 12% have driven in the dark without their lights on, and 11% have taken to the road in a vehicle with an expired MOT.
More than one in 10 (11%) have overtaken vehicles when it wasn’t safe to do so, three in 10 have driven while sleepy and seven per cent journeyed with an overloaded vehicle.
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The study also found, of all motorists who have taken narcotics and then driven, cannabis is most common (47%), followed by amphetamines, ecstasy, and cocaine (all 31%).
And those aged 25 to 34 came top for the number of motorists who’ve taken drugs before getting behind the wheel – 31%.
However those aged 17 to 24 are most likely to exceed the alcohol limit before taking to the road (20%).
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These findings may explain why three quarters of all those polled (76%) think there should be higher penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
But more than a third (36%) admitted they don't know for sure what the alcohol limit is.
Further to this, in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood – and for Scotland it is 50 milligrammes.
But just 8% correctly stated the England, Wales, and Northern Ireland limit and 10%, the Scottish limit.
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Although, reassuringly, most thought the threshold was lower.
It also emerged, many of those polled aren’t entirely certain how many units are in a pint of beer (46%), a glass of wine (50%) or a measure of spirits (53%).
Collectively, this may explain why seven in 10 think motorists shouldn’t be able to drink any booze before driving.
Carried out through OnePoll, the study found three in 10 drivers (30%) believe UK roads are not safe to drive on.
Around three quarters (74%) have felt intimidated by other motorists at one time or another – although 26% admitted to knowingly intimidating others themselves.
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More than a quarter (27%) have been in an accident where they were the driver during the past five years.
However, 54% of those aged 25 to 34 have been involved in a traffic collision in that same period of time – more than any other age group.
Qamar Anwar added: “Driving can be – and should be – a safe and enjoyable experience.
“However as the findings show, there are those who are taking risks and could be ruining it for everyone else.
“Not all accidents are necessarily preventable but many are – and all drivers have a role to play in making UK roads and highways safer.”
RISKS TAKEN BY MOTORISTS:
1. Exceeded the speed limit (55%)
2. Driven while sleepy (30%)
3. Driven when ice on their windscreen hasn’t fully defrosted (29%)
4. Undertaken vehicles i.e. overtaken a vehicle on its left-hand side (24%)
5. Driven through a red light (23%)
6. Driven after exceeding the alcohol limit (21%)
7. Stayed in the middle lane when the left hand and right hand lanes are empty (21%)
8. Driven after taking recreational drugs (17%)
9. Taken/made phone calls without using ‘hands free’ (16%)
10. Not worn a seatbelt (13%)
11. Not adjusted their speed when driving in wet conditions (13%)
12. Driven in the dark without their lights on (12%)
13. Driven a vehicle with an expired MOT (11%)
14. Overtaken vehicles when it wasn’t safe to do so (11%)
15. Driven with too many passengers in the car (10%)
16. Checked social media while driving (8%)
17. Driven with an unsafe load or overloaded vehicle (7%)
18. Driven without insurance (6%)
19. Taken selfies while driving (6%)
20. Posted on social media while driving (5%)
21. Watched a video while driving (5%)
22. Videoed themselves while driving (5%)
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