The dawn of a new year is traditionally a time for new beginnings, to banish bad habits and start afresh. If you smoke, have a glass of wine or two more than the doctor recommends or need to shed a Christmas kilo or three, you already have a few pointers to better behaviour for the new year.
If you have already conceded defeat on tidying up your waistline, why not consider tidying up your road manners? Even the best driver picks up a few bad habits over time but if you don’t think you’re guilty of any on-road misdemeanors, there’s a very good chance that you just aren’t aware of them.
We asked the 16,000 people who follow What Car? on Facebook which driving behaviours they found most infuriating and we’ve turned those responses into a list of the 10 things we all need to stop doing in 2015, to make the roads a safer, less frustrating place to be. How many are you guilty of?
1) Not indicating
The biggest single frustration for those surveyed was drivers who don’t indicate. It doesn't take long, it costs nothing and it's easy. So do it.
2) Poor lane discipline
Undertaking, hogging the middle lane, crossing more than one lane at once, and quite probably a few examples of not indicating thrown in for good measure. In any case, everyone knows that you should keep left unless overtaking.
3) Foglights on when not needed
Drivers hate it when other drivers dazzle them with their foglights on when they aren’t needed, although a lot of those surveyed suggested that the offending motorists probably didn’t even know they were on.
4) Poor roundabout etiquette
Driving too quickly up to a roundabout and slamming on the brakes, driving around a roundabout in the wrong lane, pulling out when there is someone coming, pulling on to a roundabout when your exit is blocked and clogging it up. Stop it.
5) Erratic driving
No one likes seeing unpredictable driving. Cutting in and out of lanes, heavy braking and acceleration rather than proceeding smoothly unnerves other drivers and causes accidents.
6) Mobile phones
We were quite surprised to see this languishing so low on the list. Whether that is indicative of guilty consciences among the What Car? Facebook fraternity or a feeling that it is so epidemic as to not be worth complaining about. Either way, it takes your eyes off the road and as such is dangerous.
Driving too close behind another car is dangerous. You might think they are driving too slow and filling their mirrors might ‘remind’ them how busy and important you are, but in truth, it is more likely to cause frustration, annoyance and quite likely, an accident.
8) Pulling out without looking
It puts responsibility for avoiding a bump in the hands of another driver. Do you trust other drivers that much?
9) Stupid driving in bad weather
An obvious one, but if it is raining heavily, is foggy, icy or snowing, seeing someone slicing down the outside lane with no hope of controlling the car if something goes wrong is very annoying indeed. Drive according to the conditions to get home in one piece.
It's something we all do from time to time, but we suspect it is idiotic speeding in built-up areas that causes more outrage than nudging towards 80mph on a dry, well-lit motorway. Either way, excess speed is still something that annoys other motorists.
Of the responses that didn’t make the final list, most were variations on the ones listed above. Putting on makeup while driving is scarcely believable, with eating and slurping a drink also irking the nation’s motorists.
Many forms of parking behaviour cause upset, including blocking driveways, non-badge holders using disabled parking spaces, double parking and one car occupying two bays.
Perhaps our favourite complaints, however, were related to drivers' clothing. There was one vote each complaining about drivers wearing hats behind the wheel and another about those in driving gloves. Neither of these pose an immediate threat to road safety, but did make us smile.