Driving in the dark, snowy weather and roundabouts are among Brits’ top motoring fears, according to new research. Motorways, the glare of a low sun and lorries also give drivers the jitters – along with box junctions, rain and other drivers.
Over half of motorists experience anxiety when driving and 50 per cent have avoided driving entirely as a result — with winter the time of year they’re most likely to hang-up the keys. Half of drivers have been in a traffic accident – with a third caused by situations where visibility is impaired such as poor weather, low sun and darkness. Commissioned by Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care as part of their winter ‘Can’t See the Signs’ campaign, the research of 2,000 drivers also found 28 per cent of car accidents occur in the winter.
Spokesman Adrian Ellis said: “With busy traffic, poor visibility and the actions of other drivers to consider, it’s no wonder that many motorists find it stressful on the road at times. But the huge amount of people who appear to lack confidence when driving in certain conditions is surprising. It drives home the need to have regular eye tests and optimum vision for their own safety and the safety of other road users.”
A third of respondents consider themselves to be a nervous driver, 34 per cent admit they are anxious about driving in the dark and three in five avoid driving on the motorway. Two in five respondents keep away from roundabouts where possible and 28 per cent stay out of the driving seat when it’s rainy. January is the month when most respondents stay away from the driver’s seat, followed by December and February.
Around a third of respondents said they struggle to read the signs when driving at night – while 66 per cent find it hard to cope with the glare of car headlights. A fifth of people said they have difficulty focussing when driving in the dark and 22 per cent said they find that they can’t always see the kerb during a night time drive. A quarter of those polled have stayed away from country roads and 35 per cent give driving a miss in areas where there’s lots of traffic.
Snowy weather provokes the most anxiety among drivers – with two thirds saying it leaves them feeling nervous and three in five saying they don’t drive at all when it snows. Of those polled, 15 per cent avoid driving in areas where there are lots of pedestrians, a fifth don’t like using dual carriageways and a quarter feel nervous when using box junctions. Half said the unpredictability of other drivers makes them anxious and 43 per cent said the dazzle of a low sun during the spring and autumn months leaves them feeling apprehensive. Lorries make 37 per cent of respondents feel on edge and four in 10 said they find driving in the dark stressful. Two in five cited poor eyesight and poor visibility as having the most detrimental effect on a person’s ability to drive – above lack of confidence and older age.
On average British drivers last had their eyes tested around two years and six months ago – while almost a fifth haven’t had a check-up in over five years and four per cent have never had one. Six in 10 respondents said their vision has deteriorated since they originally passed their driving test.
Adrian Ellis, of Scrivens Opticians & Hearing Care, said: “Driving is a challenge at this time of year as fading light and shorter days make it more difficult to see. Changes to your vision should be more noticeable during the autumn and winter months, so our advice is not to ignore these signs and have your eyes tested regularly. Vision does deteriorate with age with the 40-plus group particularly at risk, but it can be corrected and give people back confidence they may have lost.”