Many of us like to think we are pretty accomplished on the roads and can teach our friends or relatives a thing or two. However, that’s not always the case, so how high is the level of driving in the UK? From those who drive the school run every morning to those who purchase cheap short term car insurance when road tripping with friends, this is a question we have looked to answer.
We have come to a conclusion on the subject by comparing the different regions of the UK against each other. Is the South West home to the best drivers? Or is the North West where the UK’s most accomplished reside? This is what we have looked to find out.
Utilising data compiled in a recent survey, we have been able to rank the UK regions, settling for good where in the UK is home to the best drivers.
Read on to discover the rankings – presented in an interactive map of the UK below – and don’t forget to enter our competition to win a pair of in-car DVD players for your passengers to enjoy.
Revealed: the best place for drivers in the UK
Which region is home to the best UK drivers?
1. North East, Yorkshire & The Humber
2. South West
=4. North West
=4. Northern Ireland
=5. East of England
6. South East
So, there you have it, the North East, Yorkshire & The Humber is the winner and the region that is home to the best UK drivers. The overall rankings were quite close but the number one region had some clear daylight between it and the South West in second place.
The rural regions performed very well, perhaps thanks to the more difficult country roads to navigate and a lower volume of built-up areas. While rankings always produce winners and losers, even 7th placed London managed to win a category, showcasing that each region has its strength and weaknesses when it comes to its driving population.
For a breakdown of how the rankings were compiled and the questions utilised to gather the survey data, click here and read the methodology below.
Asking nine questions designed to help us understand the driving habits of the UK, we sent out a survey to a group of drivers from all 10 regions to compare their responses. The questions were:
- Do you always signal before making a turn?
- Do you ever check your mobile phone whilst waiting in traffic or at lights?
- Do you ever eat, drink or smoke whilst driving?
- Have you ever overtaken when you perhaps shouldn’t have?
- Have you ever caused an accident?
- Do you always check your mirrors before manoeuvring?
- Have you ever driven after consuming an alcoholic drink?
- Have you ever driven when overly tired?
Once the answers were in, the regions were allocated a score from 1-10 depending on how well they fared on each question. First place received 10 points, second received 9 points and so on, down to 1 point for coming in tenth place. Regions who had the same amount of positive responses in a question received the same score. The regions were then ranked based on their final scores.
Which region is best at driving, in the UK?
1. North East, Yorkshire & The Humber
Coming in first place is the North East, Yorkshire & The Humber – the best place for drivers in the UK according to our survey data. An area that clearly knows the Highway Code, the findings found that drivers in this part of the country are particularly safe, doing many of the things that drivers should on the road.
Some of the key stats showcased were that 67% of residents have never overtaken when they shouldn’t have which is the best percentage of any UK region.
53.06% have never eaten, drank or smoked behind the wheel – again, the best among UK regions for this area of road safety and conduct.
The North East, Yorkshire & The Humber is also the best for keeping within the speed limit, whether 70 mph or 30 mph, with the survey finding that nearly 40% of people say they have never exceeded the legal speed limit.
Someone who knows the roads well in North Yorkshire is Michaela from the lifestyle and family blog Adventures of a Yorkshire Mum. Michaela has been driving in Yorkshire for many years and we asked her if she was surprised by these rankings:
“I am not surprised at all that Yorkshire has come out ranked top as I’ve had nothing but great experiences from driving and being a pedestrian in Yorkshire. Even back 10 years ago when I did my lessons, I remember other drivers actively being patient towards me and giving way when I was driving past so as to not to spook a learner, and I even see this now with learner drivers on the road.
“And even as a pedestrian, I’ve always felt safe when crossing at traffic lights and zebra crossings, knowing that drivers will follow the rules of the road and take care of others on the road.”
2. South West
In second place is the South West. Comprising of Bristol, Cornwall, Dorset, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire, it had the best result for one question whilst coming in the top three for five others. Drivers here are the least likely to check their mobile phone when waiting at lights or in traffic, although they are the third most likely to have exceeded the speed limit.
With 79.59% of people saying they don’t check their mobile phones whilst stationary, the South West performed at least 8% better than all other regions.
The results also found that over 90% of people say they always check their mirrors before manoeuvring.
However, 46.94% of respondents had previously overtaken when they believe they shouldn’t have, meaning that although they are checking their mirrors, they may still be taking occasional risks on the road.
David from First Drive South West spoke to us about how he views the driving levels in the South West: “The term best drivers is an interesting one when describing fellow road users. What I think would be more appropriate is considerate drivers. Certainly, in the South West, I think fellow road users are generally considerate and you really don’t see too many pieces of bad driving.”
David told us what he might put this high ranking down to: “Traffic volume is probably lower in the South West compared to other regions. I don’t have any numbers to back that up but that may explain why. Also, the demographic of the population in the region may have something to do with it.”
He also remarked: “Whenever I travel to a different region of the country, I do notice each one has their own style.”
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Wales has been named as the third-best region in the United Kingdom for drivers, coming first in one of our categories and performing consistently well in a number of other areas. In fact, Wales finished in the top four in six of our nine categories.
The stat that stands out the most is that over 95% of people in Wales say they always check their mirrors before manoeuvring – this is the highest percentage of any UK region.
The survey found that only 53% of people have admitted to driving when overly tired.
While 100 per cent would be the ideal figure, a healthy 95% of people say they always signal before making a turn – a beneficial action for both drivers and pedestrians alike.
=4. North West
The North West came in at equal fourth place, coming first in one category. Despite its stellar performance when it comes to driver tiredness, there were a few lower results which stopped it reaching a podium finish.
The best result was that 51.85% of people said they had never driven when overly tired – beating other regions by a thin margin.
96.30% of respondents said they always signal before making a turn and 35.19% said they hadn’t ever exceeded the legal speed limit – both the second-best results in the respective categories.
Manchester-based blogger Simone from Manchester Mummy is used to the roads in the North West and offered her reaction to this result: “I’m somewhat disappointed the North West only came joint 4th, especially with me driving on the roads! If I had to re-take my driving test today, I would probably fail, it does seem much harder now.
“However, that is only a good thing. With more and more cars on the roads, you constantly have to have your wits about you and be in tune with your car. The state of the roads does not help as drivers find themselves navigating craters in the roads, as well as other drivers too. Hopefully, the North West can top the chart in the future.”
=4. Northern Ireland
Coming in equal fourth place, near the middle of our rankings is Northern Ireland. While they can’t claim overall victory, the nation has held its own, scoring a second-place and three further top-three finishes.
Some of the key stats from the survey are that 85% of people say they have never driven after consuming an alcoholic drink – the second-best result in this category.
The survey has also revealed that less than 10% of Northern Ireland residents have caused an accident whilst driving – the third-best result in the UK.
One of the less desirable stats is that over 50% of people admit that they eat, drink or smoke whilst driving – something which is not ideal for concentration on the road.
=5. East of England
Two regions have also taken fifth place, with the East of England being the first. Scoring at both ends of the scale, this region managed to perform best in one category and also perform worst in another.
The most impressive score the East of England achieved was that a mere 2.04% of respondents said they had been responsible for an accident in the past – the best of any region.
In contrast, the region performed the worst in another area, where over 77% of people had admitted to breaking the speed limit in the past.
However, they did have two other strong results, coming in second place thanks to having only 38.78% of people saying they had overtaken when they shouldn’t have and 51.02% of people saying they hadn’t driven when overly tired.
Scotland, unfortunately, didn’t fare as well as Wales or Northern Ireland on this list, with it coming down in joint fifth place. Thanks to a few poor results in areas such as overtaking and phone use. It wasn’t all bad news however, with a first-place finish also occurring.
The stat which Scot’s will be most happy with is the fact that 87% of residents say they have never driven after consuming an alcoholic drink. This is the best result in the UK.
Scots also declared themselves to be guilt-free when it comes to crashes, with only 2% of people being responsible for a road accident.
Unfortunately, over 35% of Scots say that they have checked their mobile phones while waiting in traffic – this was one of the worst percentages in the country.
6. South East
In sixth place, the South East of England has found itself sitting near the bottom of the list. Despite their low position, they came second for two categories and managed to avoid bottom place in all of the others.
It’s two highest positions came in the third and fourth questions. As 37.50% of people said they had never exceeded the legal speed limit and 51.79% of people said they didn’t eat, drink or smoke whilst driving.
Its lowest score was that 55.36% of respondents claimed to have previously overtaken when they shouldn’t have – the second-worst response for this question.
57.14% of people in the South East had driven when overly tired and 92.86% of people said they always signalled when making a turn which placed the region in the middle of the field for both questions.
Sadly, for Londoners, as well as having to deal with the congestion charge they are also languishing right down in seventh place – being the second-worst place for drivers in the UK. Why so low? Well, despite one first-place finish, London scored the worst result for mobile phone use and the second-worst in two other areas.
The survey of residents has found that 98% of Londoners always make a signal before making a turn – the best result in the UK.
However, 55% of Londoners say that they sometimes check their mobile phone whilst waiting in traffic or at lights. This is the worst percentage of phone use in the UK.
Also, 75% say that they have pushed their miles per hour past the legal speed limit and 25% of people have caused an accident – these two stats are the second-worst in the UK.
At the bottom of the ranking with the worst drivers is the Midlands. The region still put in a good effort, with one third-place finish, although it was let down by coming out at the bottom in two categories.
62.96% of people said they eat, drink or smoke whilst driving, putting the Midlands in bottom place for this question by over 5% and coming in at over 16% lower than the category winners (their neighbour, the North East, Yorkshire & The Humber).
They also lost points in question five, as 57.41% of respondents admitted to having overtaken someone when they perhaps shouldn’t have. The worst response rate for this question.
However, despite coming last they managed a third-place position thanks to 96.30% of people saying they always signal before making a turn, and a fourth-place position as only a third of respondents (33.33%) said they have broken the speed limit.
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How good are drivers in the UK?
The battle of Britain’s drivers is now complete, and our victor and home to the best drivers in the UK seems to be the North East, Yorkshire, and The Humber. Do these rankings match up to your own personal experiences of driving in these regions? If we take UK citizens at their word, these are pretty interesting findings – though surely some of the residents of these regions will take umbrage with the results!
We hope you entered the above competition for your chance to win a pair of in-car DVD players – perfect for entertaining children or driving companions on a long journey. For more fascinating and helpful articles, make sure to visit our news page.
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