Driver confidence in the UK
Driving confidence can be described as a person’s feeling of assurance in their ability to drive safely. Yet in the UK, over one million road users would describe themselves as unconfident drivers.
Our research reveals key insights about the state of driver confidence in the UK, analysing what makes drivers feel the most and least confident, the cities home to the most self-assured drivers and tips on how to increase confidence while driving.
Belfast is home to the most confident drivers
With 96.4% of drivers in Belfast feeling assured of their driving ability, the city is home to the most confident drivers in the UK, closely followed by Glasgow (93.5%) and Bristol (93.3%)
Liverpool and Sheffield were found to have some of the least confident drivers.
The scenarios where drivers feel the most confident
Motorway driving (42%), residential roads (37%), and country lanes (21%) are the scenarios where drivers feel the most confident.
When asking about the scenarios that make drivers feel least confident, driving in icy conditions, driving in the snow, and navigating slip roads were among the most common responses.
How age and experience affect driving confidence
Alongside certain driving situations, age and experience also play a significant role in having confidence behind the wheel. comparethemarket.com reveals that 58% of drivers feel the most confident when having between one and six years of experience, then confidence levels then significantly reduce after that point. It’s therefore surprising that 57% of drivers say they have not taken any proactive steps to become more confident. When asking participants why they hadn’t chosen to take additional lessons, one in five agreed it was down to expense.
The nations’ opinions on re-testing drivers after a certain age
With age and years of experience having such a big impact on confidence, nearly one in three drivers believe people should re-sit their driving tests when they reach the age of 60 - this increases to over one in two drivers who think you should retest at 70.
National differences in opinion show that those in Northern Ireland agree the most that drivers should retest when they reach 60 (35%), followed by Scotland (31%), while just 28% of drivers in Wales agreed.
Perhaps drivers are correct in wanting people to be retested, as almost one in three say they wouldn’t be able to repass their theory test. And when asked whether they would be capable of repassing their practical driving test, one in six said they wouldn’t. This was agreed by twice as many women as men.
Expert tips on increasing driver confidence
1. Plan ahead
Finding yourself in an unfamiliar location can be extremely disorientating. By preparing and carefully planning your journey, you’ll be less likely to knock your confidence by making simple mistakes, like missing a junction.
2. Practice driving in different situations
If you feel particularly nervous at nighttime or in icy conditions, it can become tempting to avoid driving at these times altogether. However, practicing driving in conditions that make you feel less confident is an important step in overcoming nervousness and feeling more assured of your abilities.
3. Take additional motorway lessons
Learning to drive on motorways isn’t a requirement to pass your test. This can leave many drivers feeling nervous when first experiencing motorway driving and can have a lasting effect. Taking additional motorway-specific driving lessons is a great way to build up confidence.
4. Slow down and stick to the speed limits
When driving at higher speeds (within the legal speed limits) it can be easy to make small mistakes that can knock your confidence. By slowing down, you can make a more comprehensive assessment of the road and make better driving decisions - helping keep you and other drivers safe.
Sources and methodology
The survey data collected in this study was based on a survey of 2,016 UK drivers, which took place in February 2022.