Study: 46 Percent of Drivers Admit to Driving When They Shouldn't

By Kelsey Mays  on August 6, 2014

https://www.cstatic-images.com/stock/765x765/38/1178404071-1425510637138.

Nearly half of all drivers admitted to driving when they shouldn't have. That's one finding in a poll of 2,000 licensed drivers from December 2013, which CarInsurance.com released Monday. The website found that 46 percent of respondents admitted to driving once or twice in the past year when they knew they shouldn't have.

Related: Survey: A Third of Drivers Lie in Car Insurance Applications

Eleven percent admitted to driving when they shouldn't have from three to 10 times in the past year. And 3 percent were serious repeat offenders, admitting to driving when they shouldn't have at least 11 times in the past year.

"I'm glad I don't know any of those 3 percenters," said Michelle Megna, managing editor at the Foster City, Calif.-based insurance advice website. Other survey results had no date attached, Megna told us, which means respondents only admitted to having ever done it.

It's not just alcohol impairment that precedes a poor choice to get behind the wheel. The survey dug up some interesting (if troubling) numbers: Drivers admitted to getting behind the wheel when they were sleepy (68 percent), experiencing a headache (53 percent), sick enough to be in bed (35 percent), less drunk than a friend (23 percent), weren't wearing necessary glasses or contacts (16 percent), taking narcotic pain medicine (15 percent) or had their arm in a cast (8 percent).

Note that these figures came from the general population. Not everyone has had their arm in a cast, and 25 percent of adults reportedly don't need glasses or contacts. That means, in all likelihood, that the portion of people who have ever had a cast and drove with it exceeds 8 percent. And the portion of visually impaired drivers who drove without glasses or contacts exceeds 16 percent.

Drivers also admitted to getting behind the wheel despite car problems, the survey found. What kind? Read on:

  • 61 percent admitted to driving with the check engine light on.
  • 32 percent admitted to driving when they couldn't see through snow or ice on the windshield.
  • 26 percent admitted to driving when their windshield wipers weren't working.
  • 21 percent admitted to driving with a broken speedometer.
  • 19 percent admitted to driving with a broken horn.
  • 18 percent admitted to driving with broken headlights.
  • 17 percent admitted to driving on a flat tire.
  • 10 percent admitted to driving when a door had to be held closed.
  • 7 percent admitted to driving without a required car seat for their child.
  • 6 percent admitted to driving a car filled with exhaust fumes.
  • 5 percent admitted to driving with a missing or broken driver's seat.

"I did find it a little surprising that people drove when their car needed repairs," Megna said. "Sometimes you don't really have a choice with a flat tire. … [But] the door having to be helped closed, I really get a great visual on that."

So can we. Fortunately, 79 percent of respondents said they had put down their keys when someone else persuaded them. It appears friends and family can be a good influence, especially when it comes to driving.

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears


Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price.  Email Kelsey


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