/ Motoring

Which driver habits annoy you: bad indication, tailgating…

'Got patience?' painted on the back of a lorry

Narrowly missing a collision when a driver fails to indicate properly isn’t much fun, as I found out. This, along with drivers hogging the middle lane, has to be my biggest pet hate about others drivers – what’s yours?

Earlier this week, I was cycling to the station – in a hurry not to miss my train – and I came up behind a car which was, well, all I can say is ‘hovering’ beside a vacant parking space. The car was indicating left as though he was about to go in.

The road was clear, with no oncoming vehicles, so I decided it was safe to go past on his right-hand side. As I pulled up alongside, he changed indicators and pulled forward and right, across the road, into my path.

His action caused me to have to swerve, and both of us to brake sharply, in order to avoid me putting a large dent in his door (never mind how much damage could have been done to me or my bike!).

The driver apologised with a wave of his hand and a sheepish smile, and I restrained myself from saying what I thought, either in voice or with hand signals. After all, my focus was on catching that train, rather than showing my feelings or holding grudges.

Keep calm and carry on

My advanced driver training taught me two particular things for such circumstances. The first is to try to anticipate when the actions of other road users might be hazardous to my safe progress. As I didn’t hit him, I think that one was just about achieved. The second was to remain calm, even when something unexpected does happen, which I also managed quite well.

This sort of incident is, after all, par for the course for most commuting cyclists, and it’s probably only as bad (and potentially dangerous) as the habits some cyclists exhibit all too often. You know the ones – driving through red traffic lights or squeezing along the inside of a bendy bus that’s waiting to turn left.

The reality for me was that, luckily, I avoided the accident, caught my train and completed my journey without further incident.

What are your pet hates?

The very next day, a colleague asked me about which of the driving habits of others most wind me up. As I say, I try not to be ‘wound up’ when I’m on the roads, but I had to mention the incident with the indicating car, as well as the impetuous behaviour of too many cyclists.

And it’s not surprising to see that failing to indicate came top of a recent survey by confused.com about people’s biggest irritants on the roads. Other pet hates included tailgating and refusing to let others out at junctions.

I added to the list a gripe I’m sure I share with many. I really think UK drivers need more formal tuition about motorway lane discipline. Our motorways would flow so much more smoothly and efficiently if people used the lanes properly.

But the number of drivers who think the middle lane is their personal territory really annoys me and, in my view causes unnecessary and hazardous disruption to drivers trying to follow the highway code.

Are you with me – or the survey – with these pet hates or do you have others to add to the list?

What's your biggest pet hate about other drivers?

Tailgating (22%, 224 Votes)

Drivers on mobiles (20%, 199 Votes)

Hogging motorway lanes (19%, 192 Votes)

Bad indication (14%, 141 Votes)

Driving too slowly (8%, 84 Votes)

Dropping litter out of car windows (6%, 57 Votes)

Speeding (4%, 40 Votes)

Other – tell us in the comments (3%, 32 Votes)

Undertaking (2%, 23 Votes)

Not letting other drivers out at junctions (1%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,006

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roger parker says:
26 January 2012

Thank you for all your comments , I am not a great user of the motorway the odd weekend between Watlington and Birmingham, this appears to be a very busy time so therefor the left hand lane tends to be occupied most of the time. This might be the reason I adopted what I consider to be my safest option.
Thanks for all the interesting comments, some I agree with some I don’t ,Thats life!!

Thanks for being honest & up front, Roger…it’s appreciated & you are now aware.

Louis questions the US driving standard that permits overtaking on either side. Firstly drivers in the US are legally obliged to check mirrors on both sides & indicate prior to a lane change. It’s the norm for them & everyone is aware of the rules & penalties.
Secondly, US freeways frequently have exits both on the right & left sides so “undertaking” is a must on many occasions.
I do not believe it would be a good idea to introduce it here in the UK as we already have our set of rules & changing drivers’ habits could prove very dangerous. That said, there is always the exception as on the Variable Speed Limit sections of the M25 & many drivers still do not understand this.

Hello all, we’ve published a new Conversation featuring the results of this poll and some of your comments: https://conversation.which.co.uk/transport-travel/bad-driver-habits-road-rage-poll-results-tailgating/ Tailgating came out on top as the most annoying pet hate. But do you agree?

Patrick, I don’t really see the point in compiling such charts. If tailgating is no. 1 this week, will it still be number one next week or will a new more popular pet hate knock it off the no. 1 spot? Will tailgating get “platinum” if enough people hate it? Isn’t it more productive to encourage considerate and courteous behaviour in general rather than concentrate on specific things? Also, I don’t see how this conversation belongs on the Which? web site. What’s it got to do with consumers? We are not talking about products or services.

Hello Clint, after 1,000 votes from Which? Conversation readers it’s definitely worth reporting on. There are also over 150 comments, of which quite a few are featured in the new post. We like to feature what Which? Convo commenters are saying, and this poll was a good reason to do so.

As with any poll or survey, it’s true at the time it was taken – and in this case with over 1,000 votes it’s statistically significant.

Which? Conversation is for our experts, in this case Which? Car, to talk about all manner of subjects, and in this case Dave used his experience to pass on advice about being calm on the road. If you’d like to talk about this further please email us: https://conversation.which.co.uk/contact-us Thanks.

Biggest irritation:
Drivers gawping at SatNav screens, taking no notice of other road users and following a blob on the screen at all costs, rather than looking through the vehicle windows, using mirrors, reading road signs (god forbid) and generally being in control. Aaaaaahh, that’s better, rant over.

Richard Swinney says:
2 March 2012

My pet hate is drivers doing those things which if they did them in a test it would cause them to fail, e.g. Not signalling, often at all, but particularly when turning left and approaching roundabouts
Not being able to exit a junction or onto a roundabout (hesitation)
Driving everywhere at 30, because they have no idea what limit they are in and don’t mean to find out
Driving in fog, rain, or well after sunset with no lights or just parking lights.
Using a mobile phone, often texting

Andrew Currie says:
13 May 2012

It should be pointed out that the drivers responding to the survey on what annoys them, are, almost always, incompetent themselves and routinely commit the very mistakes they complain about in others!

The fact that they are incompetent and routinely commit the very mistakes they complain about does not appear to invalidate the survey. I’ve just looked at the results again and, if pushed to make a choice, I’d have to agree with the top 4.

I don’t know how you would define “competence” in a non-professional driver, but I’ve held a clean license for 40 years, which I obtained on my first attempt. I took and passed the IAM test when I was 24. I did once receive a parking ticket when I was 18 for unloading on a double yellow. But then maybe you’re still right in what you say, as I didn’t respond to the survey in person!

Another habit that gets me really angry is smokers who treat the public highway as their ashtray.

Where is a police officer or council official when you need one, to issue an on the spot penalty?