Brake, the road safety charity, and Direct Line insurance are urging drivers to hang back, slow down and chill out on country roads to avoid tragedies, as a survey reveals the extent of risky, aggressive overtaking.
An alarming one in seven drivers (14%) report that in the past year they have been forced by another driver’s overtaking to swerve, pull over or brake to avoid a collision.
Brake and Direct Line’s survey also found that, in the past year:
Four in five drivers (80%) have felt endangered by an overtaking manoeuvre, either of their own, their driver, or another vehicle.
Almost all drivers (94%) have witnessed a risky overtaking manoeuvre, and more than half (53%) see them monthly or more often.
One in five drivers (18%) admit they have themselves overtaken another vehicle when they were not certain if there were any hidden vehicles or hazards they could have hit during the manoeuvre.
When it comes to owning up to risky overtaking, it was most common among male and young drivers, with 21% of men and two in five (39%) 17-24 year olds admitting doing so when they weren’t sure the road ahead was clear. The figures for speeding paint a similar picture, with almost half of male drivers (44%) and more than half of young drivers (17-24; 56%) doing over 60mph on single carriageway country roads, compared with less than a third (31%) of women and two in five drivers (37%) overall. This tallies with the statistical evidence that young male drivers are involved in many more crashes than older and female drivers.
In another recent Brake and Direct Line survey, risky overtaking came fourth on a list of UK drivers’ road safety concerns, cited by two thirds (66%) of respondents. Overtaking is a particular problem on single carriageway country roads, where high speeds and blind bends often make it impossible to be sure the road ahead is clear, creating a risk of devastating head-on collisions. This is one of the reasons country roads are, per mile travelled, the most dangerous for all types of road user, accounting for more than half (52%) of fatal crashes on UK roadsw.
Brake is urging all drivers to think twice before overtaking on country roads, and only to do so if absolutely essential, for instance to overtake an extremely slow moving vehicle, and only if it can be done on a long, clear stretch and without speeding. Otherwise, drivers should hang back and relax.