UK’s most common driving courtesies

As a motorist, it’s easy to get frustrated when other drivers don’t demonstrate the polite courtesies you expect. In fact, 68% of UK drivers believe that they’re courteous when on the roads, yet as many as 86% admit to getting frustrated when others aren’t showing common courtesies.

However, many drivers are seemingly unaware that some of these common courtesies could land them a fine. Our research shows not only what the most common driving courtesies are, but also whether they’re legal, along with tips on how to be a well-mannered motorist.

 

Waving to say thank you is the most common driving courtesy

According to British drivers, waving to say thank you (63%), turning your full beam off when drivers are coming towards you (60%), and giving more room to learner drivers (50%) are the most common and expected courtesies while on the road.

Driving courtesy Percentage of drivers that abide by the courtesy
Waving to say thank you 63%
Turning your full beam off when other drivers are coming towards you 60%
Giving more room to learner drivers 50%
Flashing your headlights to say thank you 42%
Keeping your speed consistent when surrounded by other drivers 37%
Putting hazards on to say thank you to someone behind you for letting you in 35%
Slowing down when going past an accident 28%
Giving more room to vehicles with babies and children on board 16%
Parking away from other cars if you have a big vehicle that takes up more space 14%
Making other drivers aware of upcoming speed cameras/speed traps by flashing your lights or waving 11%
Beeping your horn when going around tight bends 10%

However, beeping when going around tight bends (10%), parking on the curb to make more room in the road (9%), and flashing your lights when police are ahead (7%) were found to be  less common driving courtesies. 

 

37% of motorists are unaware that flashing your lights to warn of upcoming speed traps can land you with a £1,000 fine

Using your lights to share messages with other motorists was found to be an area of the law many are unclear on.  Only 37% of motorists said they were aware that putting your hazards on to say thank you, which can result in 9 licence points and an unlimited fine, is illegal. 

Our research shows that 37% of drivers know that flashing their lights to let other drivers know of an upcoming speed camera/speed trap is illegal.

Those aged 55+ consider themselves most courteous on the roads

When asked whether they felt as though they were courteous drivers at all times, almost three quarters (72%) of those aged 55+ said that they believed they are, compared to those aged 17 to 24 where only 60% of respondents feel as though they’re a courteous driver at all times.

Norwich motorists consider themselves the most courteous drivers

When asked who believes they are the most courteous drivers at all times, Norwich came out on top with three-quarters (75%) of residents agreeing, followed closely behind by Cardiff and Belfast with 73%.

City Percentage of people who believe they’re courteous drivers
Norwich 75%
Cardiff 73%
Belfast 73%
Sheffield 72%
Southampton 72%

However, Plymouth (57%), Edinburgh (61%) and Newcastle (61%) came out the bottom with the fewest number of drivers believing that they’re courteous on the roads.

Gen-Z and millennials are most frustrated by uncourteous drivers

Drivers aged 25 to 34 get frustrated the most when other drivers aren't courteous, with 94% of respondents within that age category saying they get frustrated, compared to only 76% of those aged 55+. 

It was also found that only 1.7% of all drivers say that they never get frustrated with other drivers for not being courteous - so it’s best to be a courteous driver so as to not entice frustration or even road rage from others on the road.

Belfast and Birmingham are home to the most frustrated drivers

After asking British motorists how often they feel frustrated with other drivers when they don’t show common driving courtesies, Belfast (24%), Birmingham (23%), and Cardiff (22%) came out on top with drivers saying that they ‘frequently’ get frustrated.

City Percentage of drivers that ‘frequently’ get frustrated
Belfast 24.5%
Birmingham 23.7%
Cardiff 22.6%
Manchester 22.4%
Nottingham 22.1%

Three tips to being a well-mannered motorist

1.Maintain a respectful distance

You share the road with countless other users. Leaving adequate space between yourself and others is essential when driving to help keep everyone safe and moving along.

2. Show kindness to learners

Learners are often more nervous than most drivers when behind the wheel, so it’s important to leave a little extra space and don’t rush them - remember, everyone was a learner at one point. 

3. Exercise patience

Exercising patience when driving is often something that people struggle with, especially if they’re in a rush and running late. However, everyone on the road has somewhere to be, so getting frustrated when stuck in traffic doesn't help anyone. If you struggle with road rage, take a look at our road rage report.

Methodology

The survey data used in this study is based on a survey of 2,271 UK drivers (17+) that took place in April 2022

Sources