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Find out the truth behind the urban myths and unwritten rules of the UK's roads.
Bristol Street Motors

Revealed: The Unwritten Rules Of The Road

Revealed: The Unwritten Rules Of The Road

There has long been a series of urban myths and unwritten rules that govern the way we drive. Are people in 4x4s really the king of the road? Do people get car envy? Do motorists really not respect younger drivers as much as their older peers?

Bristol Street Motors decided to put these myths to the test. Our research has shown that drivers are more considerate and courteous depending on what type of car you drive and your actions on the road.

Key Findings

  • 45% of motorists are more careful on the road around classic cars.
  • Nearly a third of motorists (31%) would let family car drivers out at a junction over other types of vehicles.
  • Over half of motorists, 54%, are more courteous to older drivers on the road.
  • Four out of 10 motorists (44%) said they are more courteous to cars with a 'baby on board' sign.
  • 25% of motorists can't help but compare cars when a similar car drives past.

Continue reading to find out more about which motorists get the best ride in the UK.

Watch out! 45% of motorists are more careful around classic cars

The UK is home to many classic cars, from the Austin Mini to the Jaguar E-type. If you're lucky enough to drive a classic car, our research has shown that other motorists are more likely to be careful around you on the road than if you drove a car produced in the last decade or so. Overall, 72% of motorists said they would consider driving more carefully around classic cars, while 45% said they definitely would. The data shows that a large proportion of UK motorists appreciate a classic car when they see one – and want to keep it looking as good as possible.

Motorists are more likely to give family car drivers an easier ride

Along with classic cars, our survey also quizzed motorists on if the type of vehicle made a difference in a scenario where they would have the opportunity to either give way or continue on their journey. Which type of car are motorists most courteous to? Our survey responses show that if you drive a family car, nearly a third of motorists will give you preferential treatment compared to other cars when you're at a junction.

Surprisingly, and despite often getting a bad name, one in five motorists would be more likely to give way to van drivers over other types of vehicles – the second-highest figure in our survey results. Unfortunately, the vehicle type that motorists would be least likely to give way to at a junction would be a convertible, with only 2% responding that they would.

However, it's not just the type of car that impacts how motorists are treated on the road – it's also how they act.

We also asked UK motorists would they consider holding up drivers on purpose if they considered them to be driving to fast. 53% responded that they might hold speeding drivers up, while 27% said they have done so in the past. On the other hand, far from attempting to hold up speeding drivers, 16% of motorists also told us that that they would consider 'racing' a sports car if one drove alongside them.

Over half of motorists are more courteous to older drivers on the road

Our research has also shown that age makes a significant difference when considering how you are treated on the road. More than half of motorists will be more courteous to older drivers, while only 12% would give younger motorists a better deal compared to their peers.

With younger drivers more likely to have recently passed their test compared to older drivers, it's perhaps disappointing that their age group receives the least amount of courtesy on the road. On the other hand, it should be also be seen as a positive sign that UK motorists evidently respect older drivers the most.

Speaking of learner drivers, we also asked UK motorists which word best describes how they feel when behind a learner driver. 46% responded that they would be 'understanding' when encountering a learner driver on the road, while other responses that received the most votes were 'patient' and 'understanding'. However, a small proportion of motorists, a total of 14%, admitted that learner drivers made them feel impatient, frustrated, and angry.

A 'baby on board' sign means that most motorists are more courteous to you on the road

Our survey has revealed that a 'baby on board' sign displayed in your car will mean that most people are more courteous to you on the road. 66% said they would at least consider being driving more courteously around a car with a 'baby on board' sign, while 44% said they in fact would be more courteous.

Overall, when we asked motorists what the most likely reason they would be discourteous to another driver on the road, bad driving was number one, taking 60% of the votes. Using a phone at the wheel received 29% of the vote – a common annoyance on the road. However, a personal feud received a surprising 6% of the vote, while jealousy received 3%

A quarter of motorists can't help but compare cars when the same model drives past

There are lots of motoring myths about traditions that drivers of certain cars have. For example, it's often said that Porsche drivers flash their lights and wave – and our research has shown that 6% of motorists do, in fact, flash their lights when passing the same car as theirs. A quarter of UK motorists can't help but compare cars when they drive by the same one, no doubt comparing which model the other person went for, and the type of interior trim.

Nearly one in ten motorists choose to wave to a driver with the same car as theirs as a sign of being in the same car club, while 5% even admitted giving way to another driver just because they have the same car.

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