/ 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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A worker says:
5 November 2011

People who park their car anywhere they feel and in anyway they like with total disregard to the consequences of their action.

Belinda Z'Abat says:
23 November 2011

Couldn’t agree more. I have to find a place to park every Friday night where there are very limited places.
It would appear, from years of seeing this, that small cars take up the most room !
A tiny Corsa regularly takes up a position that means instead of 3 cars being able to park, only it can do so.
But then, after reading some of the previous posts, it’s obvious I should shut up and “be tolerant”.


Particularly those who block others’ drives or park on the pavement. Or the learner driver who, the other day, parked in the middle of the road while the instructor had a long chat with him/her, being totally unaware of the traffic biuilding up behind, until someone decided to hoot (I blame the instructor, not the learner).


Drivers who pull out right in front of you, especially if they they then accelerate slowly and drive well under the speed limit in front of you.

Second on the list is drivers who leave well more than the 2 second gap when moving off on a green light when in traffic and then go through red, leaving traffic that could easily have made it through the lights normally stranded to wait for another cycle of the lights.

Graham says:
23 January 2012

Even more annoying are drivers who pull out in front of you then turn off at the next junction. Invariably they have to wait for a gap if they are turning right.

ric the trucker says:
7 November 2011

The most annoying and dangerous driver is the one who doesn’t know how to join a motorway safely. It’s a give way guys! Read your highway code!

Graham says:
23 January 2012

It may be Give Way but it’s also join the motorway at the right speed and filter into the flow of traffic.
I don’t have a problem with other drivers joining the motorway without giving way if they are traveling fast enough but I do object to either following a driver down the slip road doing 30-40 mph or those who join at the wrong slow speed. You should be traveling at the same speed as the traffic already on the motorway, so that you can filter in safely. The speed limit is 70mph!
You are also supposed to move out of the inside lane when you are approaching a slip road joining the motorway, to allow other drivers to join safely. Drivers who sit adamantly in the inside lane are just as dangerous.

Harry says:
8 November 2011

First: Speeding-not just the over the limits stuff but going so quickly so that in many situations the margins for error are dangerously reduced, e.g. cars speeding around roundabouts leaving those wanting to join it having to play ‘chicken’ to get into the flow; ditto going round corners which might conceal pedestrians, a hold up etc.

Second: tail gating, especially when I’m keeping to the 30mph limit. It’s simply bullying and severely reduces the safety margins. I’d love to react by reducing my speed to allow for the tight braking distance but I fear that I’d get the full lights on/horn blowing/arm waving display of masculinity.