British drivers’ riskiest manoeuvres

Damaged in heavy car accident vehicles after collision on city street crash site. Road safety and insurance concept.

A new study has revealed that the most dangerous manoeuvre on British roads for car drivers is turning right.

The study by Forbes Advisor used data from the Department for Transport’s 2021 annual report on reported road casualties in Great Britain from 2012 to 2021 to determine which manoeuvres resulted in the most collisions for each type of vehicle.

The manoeuvres resulting in the most collisions for each vehicle type

Cars had the greatest number of collisions on British roads in each year from 2012 to 2021, and the manoeuvre that resulted in the most collisions was turning right, with 186,009 recorded collisions. Slowing or stopping resulted in the next most collisions, with 130,709 recorded in this time period. With 112,755 recorded incidents, the third most common cause of collisions for cars was being held up while waiting to go.

For motorcycles, overtaking a moving vehicle on the offside resulted in 14,324 recorded collisions, the highest amount for the vehicle type. Slowing or stopping caused the second most collisions for motorcycle riders, with 10,003 reported collisions. The third most dangerous manoeuvre for motorcycle riders was going ahead on a left-hand bend, with 8,992 reported collisions.

The most dangerous manoeuvre for light goods vehicles was turning right, with 12,418 recorded collisions from 2012 to 2021. Slowing or stopping caused the next most recorded collisions, with 10,151 in total. Light goods vehicles were involved in 7,266 recorded collisions while parked, the vehicle type’s third most frequent.

Pedal cycles were involved in most collisions while turning right, with 10,070 such incidents reported between 2012 and 2021. Moving off resulted in the next most collisions for pedal cycles, with 4,911, while going ahead on a right-hand bend came third, with 4,643 recorded collisions.

For buses or coaches, the most frequent type of recorded collision was while slowing or stopping, with 7,398 recorded between 2012 and 2021. Moving off resulted in the second most recorded collisions in that time, with 6,505 recorded in total. In third, being held up while waiting to go was the cause of 2,538 collisions for buses or coaches.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) were involved in the most collisions while slowing or stopping, with 3,714 recorded collisions between 2012 and 2021. 2,859 recorded collisions involving HGVs occurred while they were parked. Turning right resulted in the third most collisions for HGVs, with 2,857 recorded collisions.

Table showing the top 3 manoeuvres of vehicles involved in reported collisions 2012-2021 aggregated (‘going ahead other’ removed)

VehicleManoeuvre 1Manoeuvre 2Manoeuvre 3
Buses or coachesSlowing or stopping – 7,398 collisionsMoving off – 6,505 collisionsWaiting to go – held up – 2,538 collisions
CarsTurning right – 186,009 collisionsSlowing or stopping – 130,709 collisionsWaiting to go – held up – 112,755 collisions
Heavy goods vehiclesSlowing or stopping – 3,714 collisionsParked – 2,859 collisionsTurning right – 2,857 collisions
Light goods vehiclesTurning right – 12,418 collisionsSlowing or stopping – 10,151 collisionsParked – 7,266 collisions
MotorcyclesOvertaking moving vehicle – offside – 14,324 collisionsSlowing or stopping – 10,003 collisionsGoing ahead left-hand bend – 8,992 collisions
Other or unknown vehiclesTurning right – 2,508 collisionsParked – 1,608 collisionsMoving off – 1,514 collisions
Pedal cyclesTurning right – 10,070 collisionsMoving off – 4,911 collisionsGoing ahead right-hand bend – 4,643 collisions

Other or unknown vehicles include all vehicles that are not in the main vehicle type list; these include ridden horses, goods vehicles with unknown weight and unknown vehicle types.

Which vehicle types are disproportionately at risk on average while performing which manoeuvres?

The study also analysed which vehicle type faced the most risk of a collision on average for each manoeuvre.

Heavy goods vehicles experienced collisions nearly six times more frequently than the average while changing lanes to the left (585.6% of the average) and over five times as frequently while changing lanes to the right (533.37% of the average).

Cars were disproportionately involved in collisions while turning right (114.25% of the average), waiting to turn left (117.14% of the average), waiting to turn right (116.62% of the average), and being held up while waiting to go (116.81% of the average).

Motorcycles faced the most disproportionate occurrence of collisions while overtaking and going ahead on bends. They had over three times the average occurrences of collisions while overtaking on the nearside (321.93% of the average), over three and a half times the average while overtaking static vehicles on the offside (372.42% of the average), and nearly four times the average while overtaking a moving vehicle on the offside (399.55% of the average). Motorcycles also experienced collisions more frequently on left-hand bends (157.68% of the average) than on right-hand bends (130.68% of the average).

Buses or coaches faced the most disproportionate occurrence of collisions while moving off and slowing or stopping. In addition, they had over three times the average rate of collisions while moving off (309.28% of the average) and over twice the rate of collisions (217.55% of the average) while slowing or stopping.

Light goods vehicles were disproportionately at risk while reversing (253.35% of the average), while performing a U-turn (145.88% of the average), and while parked (142.75% of the average).

Pedal cycles were disproportionately involved in collisions when going ahead while not on a bend, facing collisions over 50% more than the average (155.22% of the average).

Table showing each recorded manoeuvre and which vehicle type has the greatest difference in collision occurrences from the average for each manoeuvre

ManoeuvreVehicle type with greatest difference in collision occurrencesVehicle’s involvement in all accidentsVehicle’s involvement in accidents caused by this manoeuvreIncrease compared to vehicle’s involvement in all crashes
Changing lane to leftHeavy goods vehicles2.33%13.66%585.60%
Changing lane to rightHeavy goods vehicles2.33%12.44%533.37%
Going ahead left-hand bendMotorcycles8.01%12.63%157.68%
Going ahead otherPedal cycles7.9%12.27%155.22%
Going ahead right-hand bendMotorcycles8.01%10.47%130.68%
Moving offBuses or coaches2.04%6.31%309.28%
Overtaking – nearsideMotorcycles8.01%25.79%321.93%
Overtaking moving vehicle – offsideMotorcycles8.01%32.01%399.55%
Overtaking static vehicle – offsideMotorcycles8.01%29.84%372.42%
ParkedLight goods vehicles5.41%7.73%142.75%
ReversingLight goods vehicles5.41%13.71%253.35%
Slowing or stoppingBuses or coaches2.04%4.44%217.55%
Turning leftLight goods vehicles5.41%6.74%124.54%
Turning rightCars72.91%83.31%114.25%
U-turnLight goods vehicles5.41%7.9%145.88%
Waiting to go – held upCars72.91%85.17%116.81%
Waiting to turn leftCars72.91%85.41%117.14%
Waiting to turn rightCars72.91%85.03%116.62%

Kevin Pratt, car insurance spokesperson at Forbes Advisor, said:

“Accidents will always happen, but it’s worth remembering that the vast majority are caused by human error. Drivers who are risk aware, cautious and focused on what they are doing can improve their chances of avoiding collisions.

“Modern cars are designed to make driving easier and safer, but the danger is that drivers can become complacent and distracted, perhaps reviewing a satnav screen or choosing what music to listen to instead of concentrating on the road and other traffic. And there are times when absolute focus is essential, whether it is turning right across oncoming traffic or bringing the vehicle to a safe stop.

“Anyone who can recognise and respond to high-risk situations will be a safer driver. Anyone who takes risks or doesn’t pay due care and attention will be a danger to themselves and to others.”

The study was conducted by Forbes Advisor, whose editorial team boasts decades of experience in the personal finance space. It is passionate about helping consumers make financial decisions and choose financial products that are right for their lives and goals.

The team brings rich industry knowledge to Forbes Advisor’s coverage of consumer credit, banking, investing, insurance, loans, mortgages, and property. Its priority is ensuring its coverage, reviews and guidance is backed by research, expertise, and strict methodologies.

Table showing the number of collisions recorded for each vehicle type for all known manoeuvres in each year from 2012 to 2021

Vehicle type2012201320142015201620172018201920202021
Pedal cycles19,70820,04921,97819,42818,96818,41516,34415,53514,69914,613
Buses or coaches6,3185,8956,1015,3794,9814,9284,3873,7462,0912,553
Light goods vehicles12,57512,68114,04213,87613,09412,29111,58511,8689,56511,535
Heavy goods vehicles6,7206,5216,8736,4695,8085,1004,6094,2483,2843,443
Other or unknown vehicles2,9962,4422,5742,7913,7273,9133,7182,7692,7823,877
All Vehicles265,874252,870268,518

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