More than a third of New Zealanders feel unsafe while driving and most don’t have confidence in the ability of other motorists.
This is according to an AA Driving School survey which found that within seven days of driving 85 per cent of survey respondents witnessed other motorists exceeding the speed limit, 64 per cent saw motorists drift out of a lane or park inconsiderately and 63 per cent witnessed someone run a red light.
AA Driving School General Manager Roger Venn says this perception being reported by New Zealand motorists points to an incredible level of potentially lazy and dangerous driving taking place on our roads.
“One of the main reasons for the lack of confidence in other’s abilities is people claiming to see plenty of motorists ignoring basic road rules and road courtesies.
“If that’s the case, there is a real need for better education and enforcement of some of these driving basics,” he says.
Almost 3,000 AA Members responded to a survey on whether New Zealanders thought of themselves as considerate drivers and how the purpose of their driving affected their behaviour.
It found that New Zealand motorists were more likely to point the finger at others than recognise any of their own driving slip-ups.
“There’s a definite disconnect between the number of people driving badly and those taking ownership for it,” he says.
“If we were all driving as well as we think we are then confidence levels on the road would be a lot higher.”
AA Members rated feeling safe on the road and being aware of other road users as the two most important factors when driving, ahead of getting to a destination on time or being courteous to other road users.
“The survey also shows we need to do a lot more work when it comes to being courteous on the road,” says Mr Venn.
“We found that of the courtesies you can show while driving, motorists appreciate being thanked with a wave or similar gesture the most. The problem is not enough of us are doing it, or seeing it.”
Mr Venn says a large part of improving driving on the road, is to change the way we think about it.
“Driving is like any other skill, you need to put in the time and refresh your knowledge to ensure you’re not letting bad habits stick.
“We know experienced drivers struggle to consistently indicate, check blind spots, do their mirror checks, tailgate and avoid distraction from their phones – these are all bad habits that have crept into people’s driving routines.”
Mr Venn says the only way to recognise your own bad habits is to have someone hold up a mirror and tell you.
“Often that ends up being young people doing professional lessons, who then go home to mum and dad and call them out on the things they’re doing wrong.
“A simulated on road test, which replicates a driving test, or other types of professional driver training can also help motorists recognise and then work on the weaknesses in their skillset.”