Eight in 10 motorists have diced with death by taking risks while behind the wheel - including drink and drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and posting selfies.
Researchers who polled 2,000 drivers found a worrying number appear to have a lackadaisical approach to road safety.
More than a fifth (21 per cent) have driven while over the alcohol limit, 17 per cent have hit the road after taking drugs and 13 per cent have travelled without wearing a seatbelt.
A fifth (20 per cent) have sent text messages, nearly one in 10 (eight per cent) have checked social media and six per cent have taken selfies – all while driving.
Commissioned by First4Lawyers, the research also found a third of motorists (31 per cent) didn't think they were ready to have a full licence when they passed their test.
Along with the research, the legal marketing collective has created an interactive driver attitudes and aptitudes test
where motorists can find out how safe a road user they are.
Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers said: “The research shows the vast majority of drivers are safe and law-abiding but there is a hugely worrying number who are not.
“It’s easy to develop an ‘it won’t happen to me’ attitude when driving – especially if you’re an experienced driver or have never been involved in an accident before.
“However road vehicles really are potentially lethal – it simply isn’t worth taking the risks – at the very minimum you could end up with points on your licence.
“But the reality of taking unnecessary risks whilst driving is often far worse and can have catastrophic consequences, not only for yourself, but for other road users too.”
The study also found 23 per cent have gone through red lights, 12 per cent have driven in the dark without their lights on, and 11 per cent have taken to the road in a vehicle with an expired MOT.
More than one in 10 (11 per cent) have overtaken vehicles when it wasn’t safe to do so, three in 10 have driven while sleepy and seven per cent journeyed with an overloaded vehicle.
The study also found, of all motorists who have taken narcotics and then driven, cannabis is most common (47 per cent), followed by amphetamines, ecstasy, and cocaine (all 31 per cent).
And those aged 25 to 34 came top for the number of motorists who’ve taken drugs before getting behind the wheel - 31 per cent.
However those aged 17 to 24 are most likely to exceed the alcohol limit before taking to the road (20 per cent).
Higher penalties for breaking the law
These findings may explain why three quarters of all those polled (76 per cent) think there should be higher penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
But more than a third (36 per cent) admitted they don't know for sure what the alcohol limit is.
Further to this, in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood – and for Scotland it is 50 milligrammes.
But just eight per cent correctly stated the England, Wales, and Northern Ireland limit and 10 per cent, the Scottish limit.
Although, reassuringly, most thought the threshold was lower.
It also emerged, many of those polled aren’t entirely certain how many units are in a pint of beer (46 per cent), a glass of wine (50 per cent) or a measure of spirits (53 per cent).
Collectively, this may explain why seven in 10 think motorists shouldn’t be able to drink any booze before driving.
UK roads unfit to drive on
Carried out through OnePoll, the study found three in 10 drivers (30 per cent) believe UK roads are not safe to drive on.
Around three quarters (74 per cent) have felt intimidated by other motorists at one time or another - although 26 per cent admitted to knowingly intimidating others themselves.
More than a quarter (27 per cent) have been in an accident where they were the driver during the past five years.
However, 54 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 have been involved in a traffic collision in that same period of time – more than any other age group.
Qamar Anwar added: “Driving can be – and should be – a safe and enjoyable experience.
“However as the findings show, there are those who are taking risks and could be ruining it for everyone else.
“Not all accidents are necessarily preventable but many are – and all drivers have a role to play in making UK roads and highways safer.”
RISKS TAKEN BY MOTORISTS:
1. Exceeded the speed limit (55 per cent)
2. Driven while sleepy (30 per cent)
3. Driven when ice on their windscreen hasn’t fully defrosted (29 per cent)
4. Undertaken vehicles i.e. overtaken a vehicle on its left-hand side (24 per cent)
5. Driven through a red light (23 per cent)
6. Driven after exceeding the alcohol limit (21 per cent)
7. Stayed in the middle lane when the left hand and right hand lanes are empty (21 per cent)
8. Driven after taking recreational drugs (17 per cent)
9. Taken/made phone calls without using ‘hands free’ (16 per cent)
10. Not worn a seatbelt (13 per cent)
11. Not adjusted their speed when driving in wet conditions (13 per cent)
12. Driven in the dark without their lights on (12 per cent)
13. Driven a vehicle with an expired MOT (11 per cent)
14. Overtaken vehicles when it wasn’t safe to do so (11 per cent)
15. Driven with too many passengers in the car (10 per cent)
16. Checked social media while driving (eight per cent)
17. Driven with an unsafe load or overloaded vehicle (seven per cent)
18. Driven without insurance (six per cent)
19. Taken selfies while driving (six per cent)
20. Posted on social media while driving (five per cent)