New research released by Lloyds TSB Insurance has revealed the serious impact of driving breaks on accident rates, as nearly 100,000 crashes caused last year were by drivers taking to the wheel after a long break from driving.
Lloyds TSB Insurance commissioned road safety experts to test the roadworthiness of licensed motorists who had not driven for six months or more. The results revealed that these drivers made four times as many serious safety errors as regular drivers, worryingly increasing their crash-risk by a quarter.
The insurer estimates that 98,000 accidents last year can be directly attributed to lack of driving practice, causing over £200 million worth of damage. Yet public awareness of the risks is low, with half a million ‘rusty drivers’ planning to take to the road in the next 12 months.
Driver ability in all key areas is impaired, according to the findings, with serious deficiencies in observation (86 per cent), speeding discipline (27 per cent), clutch control (33 per cent) and steering (13 per cent).
Crash risk is also heightened by the length of the driving ‘break’, with those taking to the wheel after a year nearly twice as likely to have an accident.
Despite the experiment revealing no marked difference in performance between the sexes, further research suggests women are more likely to take extended driving breaks than men (58 per cent vs. 42 per cent).
Commenting on the research, Karen McCarthy of Lloyds TSB Insurance, said:
“There is no substitute for practice and anyone thinking of getting behind the wheel after a long break needs to think really carefully about the risks. A simple refresher lesson or practice in a low traffic area can make a huge difference to your confidence and road awareness.”