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Motor Mouth articles 2011

Too fast or too slow? Both cause problems

SPEED – whether too much of it or not enough – is the root cause of a lot of driving problems, according to the findings of two separate surveys, just published.

One reckons that dawdling drivers are the main cause of annoyance among British motorists, while the other claims driving too fast is the biggest cause of arguments on car journeys.

A survey by car insurance experts Confused.com shows that 60% of motorists experience an increase in stress levels and heightened irritability when faced with a vehicle driving more slowly than the rest of the traffic.

(The report doesn’t say as much but in my experience the slow-motion drivers are usually wearing hats or tight perms, depending, generally, on gender. Or driving old Metros. Anyway, I digress).

Almost half of motorists decide to risk overtaking so increase the chances of an accident. Department for Transport research reveals that 143 accidents a year are caused by ‘Sunday drivers’.

About half of motorists support the idea of introducing ‘slow speed cameras’ to UK roads, aimed at catching slow motorists and fining them for driving slower than a minimum designated speed limit.

Gareth Kloet, of Confused.com, says: “Slow drivers need to be taken as seriously as motorists caught speeding. We support the introduction of measures to eliminate this hazard.”

Suggestions to emerge from the survey included imposing a minimum speed limit on all British roads, the introduction of a slow lane, fixed times for slow drivers to be allowed on the road and even a warning badge system to be displayed by offending motorists.

Meanwhile asurvey carried out by the online used channel, Tesco Cars, claims that speeding sparks more in-car spats than getting lost, tailgating, inept parking or even squawking kids bouncing around in the back.

The researchers found that 22% blamed excess speed for most car rows, while getting directions wrong was responsible for 18%, tailgating 13%, driving too aggressively 12%, dodgy parking 5%, driving too slowly 5% and children fighting in the back 4%. Almost 5% blamed their arguments on a dispute over the choice of music on the car radio.

Surprisingly the figures also reveal some sharp regional differences. In the Midlands, for instance, drivers argue about speeding more than anywhere else – but then again, most Midlanders of my acquaintance are never very happy and will argue about anything.

Speeding seems to be far less of an issue with motorists in London, but that’s hardly surprising as the traffic hardly moves there. Getting the directions wrong is, predictably, the main problem, especially among 55- to 65-year-olds.

Rebecca Ryan, marketing manager of Tesco Cars, said: “Most couples will have argued about something in the car at one time or another. Given the potentially serious consequences of speeding, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that it is the chief cause of fights.”

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