• • Number of drivers excessively speeding (10 mph over the speed limit) has fallen to 17%(1) from 19%(2) in the last year
    • Year-on-year fewer drivers are using mobile phones without hands-free kits but more motorists are texting at the wheel

The Sainsbury’s Car Insurance Driver Behaviour Index 2012(1) reveals that British motorists have become more cautious on the roads year-on-year, with decreases in the number of drivers excessively speeding, using a mobile phone behind the wheel, driving without a seatbelt and tailgating.

However, some ‘bad habits’ appear to have increased after falling in the previous year and Sainsbury’s car insurance is encouraging motorists to drive as safely as possible, particularly as road conditions get more treacherous in the winter months.

The number of motorists who admit to excessive speeding (exceeding the speed limit by at least 10mph) has dropped from 19% in 2011(2) to 17% in 2012(1). This is an encouraging trend as speed accounts for around a quarter of fatal crashes(3).

The number of drivers who report using their phone without a hands-free set has also dropped in the last year, from 6% in 2011 to 5% in 2012. However the number of drivers’ texting behind the wheel has increased from 4% in 2011 to 5% in 2012. This is concerning as reaction times for drivers using a phone are around 50% slower than normal(4), increasing risk of accident.

The number of people who drive feeling tired has remained consistent, with 18% reporting this ‘bad habit’ in both 2011 and 2012. This figure is still worryingly high as nearly 20% of crashes on major roads are due to driver fatigue(5). The number of drivers who admit to driving wearing inappropriate footwear has also remained the same, with more than one in ten (12%) reporting driving in flip flops, or wearing no shoes.

Also consistent is the number of people who admit to driving under the influence of alcohol. In both 2011 and 2012, 6% of drivers reported driving the morning after the night before while still possibly under the influence of alcohol. Another 6% admitted to driving after an alcoholic drink, which has remained consistent in the last year, despite Government advice that the only way to stay safe is not to drink any alcohol if you’re driving. Drivers who are over the legal limit could face a driving ban and large fine(6).

Ben Tyte, Head of Sainsbury’s Car Insurance, said:  “It’s encouraging to see that driver behaviour on our roads remains, on the whole, at a consistent level and is improving in some areas. We’re pleased to see a reduction in excessive speeding, as this is the cause of so many accidents on our roads. Being a safe driver means you are not only protecting yourself and your family, but also other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists so we’d encourage everyone to take extra caution while they’re behind the wheel, even if they already consider themselves a safe driver.”

Encouragingly, more drivers than ever are safety conscious when getting behind the wheel, with only 3% admitting to driving without a seat belt, compared to 5% in 2011.  2012 has also seen aggression on the roads fall to an all-time low with only 4% of drivers admitting to tailgating when driving, down from 5% in 2011. The number of drivers reporting road rage has stayed at a consistent low of just 2%.

The Sainsbury’s Car Insurance Driver Behaviour Index reveals that eating and drinking behind the wheel continues to remain the most prevalent ‘bad habit’ on the roads with over a quarter of drivers (27%) admitting to doing this in the previous month alone. This number has remained the same since 2011. In addition, 3% of female drivers admit to applying make-up while driving (the same as 2011) and worryingly, 2% of all drivers claim to have driven without contact lenses or glasses that they need to be able to see clearly when driving (also the same as in 2011).

Table One:  Driving behaviours (Source: Sainsbury’s Car Insurance)
Driving behaviour  Percentage of drivers admitting to doing following behaviours in the last month (2012) Percentage of drivers admitting to doing following behaviours in the last month (2011)
Eat/Drink while driving  27% 27%
Driving while tired 18% 18%
Looking at a GPS map / programming a GPS system while driving 18% 17 %
Excessive speeding  17% 19%
Driving wearing flip flops / no shoes 12% 12%
Driving the morning after the night before  6% 6%
Driving after an alcoholic drink 6% 6%
Using mobile phone while driving without a hands free kit  5% 6%
Texting while driving  5% 4%
Driving with a pet loose in the vehicle  4% 6%
Tailgating  4% 5%
Driving without a seat belt  3% 5%
Driving in a car where visibility through the windows is limited  3% 3%
Driving too slowly  3% 2%
Driving while reading a map  2% 2%
Driving without glasses or contact lenses when needed 2% 2%
Applying make-up while driving 1% 2%

Sainsbury’s car insurance provides competitively priced, quality cover, with two policy options to choose from; both offering some of the widest range of cover and benefits available in the marketplace(7).
New Sainsbury’s car insurance customers taking out a policy online or over the phone will benefit from free breakdown assistance for one year(8) and Sainsbury’s shoppers with a Nectar card could receive up to 15% discount on their premium(9). In addition, new customers taking out the supermarket bank’s Premier Cover could also benefit from double Nectar points on all Sainsbury’s shopping in-store, online and in its petrol stations for up to two years.

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