Kiwis think they‘re great drivers, so why do many feel unsafe?

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineOctober 19, 2017

An AA Driving School survey of more than 3000 AA members found that more than a third of New Zealanders feel unsafe while driving and most don‘t have confidence in the ability of other motorists.

The survey found that within seven days of driving 85% of survey respondents saw other motorists exceed the speed limit, 64% saw motorists drift out of a lane or park inconsiderately, and 63% saw someone run a red light.

AA Driving School general manager Roger Venn says this 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.

The survey 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.”

Survey participants 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 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.”  

Venn says driving was like any other skill and knowledge needed to be refreshed to ensure you were 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.”

Venn says a simulated on road test, which replicates a driving test, or other types of professional driver training, can help motorists recognise and then work on the weaknesses in their skillset.