Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Inconsiderate drivers who don’t give the road their full attention are New Zealand’s biggest driver frustration, the latest AA Insurance survey has found. Last year’s most frustrating driver behaviour – driving while using a mobile phone – fell 23 places from number one in the 2011 AA Insurance Driver Frustration Index, which polled 3,550 New Zealanders aged 18-65 to gain a better understanding of what causes drivers to become frustrated and take unnecessary risks.

“This is a significant result,” said AA Insurance Head of Operations, Martin Fox. “In 2009, there was a lot of public attention about the ban on using mobile phones while driving. This may have been the reason survey respondents cited non-compliance with the ban as the most frustrating driver behaviour last year. Although drivers who text and talk on the phone no longer rank highly in the survey, our claims experience confirms it is still happening. Using a mobile phone while driving, takes the driver’s attention away from the road, increasing the risk of an accident.”

Martin continued, “Frustrated drivers have more accidents and claim more often, so it’s important to understand the habits and behaviours that lead to hazardous driving. Motorists who fail to give the road their full attention not only put themselves at risk, but also other road users such as pedestrians and cyclists".

The second most common frustration was drivers who aren’t courteous while changing lanes or merging. This particular behaviour jumped five places from seventh in last year’s Driver Frustration Index.

Drivers who don’t indicate, or continue to indicate after they need to, were ranked as the third most frustrating behaviour. City drivers ranked this as their top frustration, compared to rural drivers who ranked it seventh. Drivers who don’t dip their lights at night for oncoming traffic placed fourth overall. Interestingly, male motorists ranked this as their top frustration while female drivers ranked the same behaviour sixth, AA Insurance found.

“It is up to all motorists to be vigilant and accommodating of other road users, especially as winter approaches and the roads become wet and icy in places,” continued Martin. “A driver who loses focus can easily become a dangerous driver who is a risk to others.”

Ranked fifth in the 2011 AA Insurance Driver Frustration Index were drivers who increase their speed at passing lanes so others are unable to pass safely. The actions of slow drivers who don’t pull over to allow others to pass them placed sixth.

Martin advised, “We recommend that motorists who wish to drive slower than general traffic keep left and that includes passing lanes.”

Motorists who block intersections, either by parking too close to an intersection and compromising visibility, or obstructing intersections to get through a set of changing lights, were listed as the ninth and tenth most common frustration respectively. Auckland city drivers were the only drivers to rate motorists who park near an intersection as a top ten frustration.

“Car claims for accidents caused by driver frustration and inattention can easily be avoided. We ask that drivers give the road their full attention and try to anticipate and respond to any changes in driving conditions,” Martin concluded.

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Top Ten Driver Frustrations (Source: AA Insurance Drivers Frustration Index 2011)

1) Drivers who are not paying full attention to the road.

2) Drivers who are not courteous while changing lanes or merging.

3) Drivers who don’t indicate or continue to indicate after they need to.

4) Drivers who don’t dip their lights for oncoming traffic at night.

5) Drivers who increase their speed at a passing lane so you can't pass and/or slow down after the passing lane.

6) Drivers who don’t pull over to allow others to pass.

7) Drivers who turn corners from the wrong lanes.

8) Drivers who follow too closely.

9) Drivers who park very near an intersection and compromise visibility.

10) Drivers of cars who block intersections to get through a phase of lights.

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