What UK drivers do when bumping a car | Findings by Shelbourne Motors

What would you do if you bumped into a parked car?

Most drivers have experienced a little bump in their car at one time. Here at Shelbourne Motors, we’ve seen all kinds of used cars from the bumped up to the almost-new. As you can probably guess, we’re incredibly car-proud and sell all our used motors in excellent condition. But this did get us wondering – how many people would be honest enough to own up if they bumped a car. We decided to do some research to find out, polling over 1,000 individuals in the UK to ask whether they’d drive away after bumping a parked car and what circumstances would convince them to own up…

The Extent of the Damage Caused

We asked our participants whether they’d admit to causing a variety of accidents, such as:

  • Scratching a car
  • Knocking a wing mirror
  • Hitting a parked car when entering/exiting your car but causing no visible damage
  • Hitting a parked car when in motion and causing visible damage

After gathering our results, we then broke the data down according to gender, age and location to see if there was any difference in conscience between these groups. Here’s what we found out…

Would You Drive Away?

We were happy to find that two thirds of our respondents said they’d be honest and leave their details if they hit a parked car. However, that still left over 31% of people who admitted that they wouldn’t own up!

The level of honesty seemed to depend on the extent of the accident caused and our results showed that people were more inclined to own up if they’d caused visible damage to the other vehicle. For example, if someone hit a parked car when getting in or out of their own vehicle, they’d be more likely to admit it if there was visible damage caused.

The accident that people were most likely to own up to was if they hit a parked car whilst in motion and caused visible damage, for example a dent. The two accidents that most people said they’d drive away from was scratching a car and hitting a parked car whilst moving, but causing no visible damage.

Interestingly, 9% of our respondents admitted that they wouldn’t own up to any of the scenarios we’d asked them about, regardless of whether any visible damage was caused or not!

Which Gender is More Honest?

The results were fairly close when looking at the male/female divide for those who would admit to bumping a car.

69% of females said they’d stop and leave their details if they hit a parked car and 67% of males agreed. This equality in opinion was the same across the board, including knocking a wing mirror (49% of women and 46% of men), breaking a car window (56% for women and 57% for men) and causing damage when hitting a parked car (59% for woman and 60% of men).

Does Age Make a Difference?

Over half of 25-34 year olds admitted that they would drive away without leaving details if they were ever to hit a parked car – a big percentage compared to the mere 6% of people in the 65+ age category.

When owning up to scrapes, only 19% of 18-24 year olds said they’d admit to scratching or keying a car in comparison with 50% of 55-64 year olds and 43% of 65 and overs.

Those in the younger categories were more likely to own up if they’d caused visible damage compared to those aged 45+ who said it would be their own personal conscience/moral compass encouraging them to own up.

Across all age ranges, around half of people said that they’d be more likely to admit it and leave details if there were witnesses to the incident.


How About Location?

Some of the key stats from our research revealed clear differences in moral compasses depending on whereabouts in the UK you lived. Here are some of the highlights from our data:

  • A staggering 81% of people in the Republic of Ireland said they would drive away and leave no details after bumping a parked car, which is the highest out of all regions
  • The next highest was South East England at 35%
  • In Northern Ireland, 24% said they’d drive away without leaving details
  • It was only 19% in Northern England and Wales
  • People in the South West are the most honest, with only 16% saying they’d drive away

What Did the Results Tell Us?

From our study, we found that most drivers in the UK had strong moral compasses and were honest about any small bumps they had with parked cars whilst driving.

However, there was a significant percentage of people who admitted they would drive away scot-free if there were no witnesses and especially if there was no visible damage to the other vehicle. This opinion was the most popular with those aged between 25 and 34 and in the Republic of Ireland. In contrast, the most honest were those aged 65 and over and those living in the South West.

So, if you ever have a little bump when driving past a parked car, make sure your moral compass is pointed towards the South West – the most honest location in the UK!