Dangerous Driving in Soaps
British TV audiences have a special place in their heart for the soaps that they know and love. Whether it’s gathering the family around the TV for a Christmas special or making sure you catch up on every episode through the week, soaps such as Eastenders and Coronation Street have remained popular since they first appeared on our screens. Last year, for example, Corrie averaged 6.7m viewers across the 12 month period, while Eastenders had 5m. Impressive numbers, considering the power of streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+.
As opposed to blockbuster Hollywood films where the stunts are over the top with people jumping from building to building, soaps have a more grounded habit of extremely bad driving. Our question is: which soap has the worst drivers?
Hollyoaks and Emmerdale have Statistically the Worst Drivers in Soap
It’s Hollyoaks, aimed at a younger audience, that has the joint-highest rate of car crashes and accidents when compared to its more traditional counterparts. At an average rate of 3.8 incidents every 5 years since its debut on Channel 4 in October 1995, dangerous driving tends to be surprisingly high on the scriptwriters’ ideas list when it comes to writing characters off, with 20 car-related fatalities overall.
Alongside car incidents, Hollyoaks seem to have a tendency to revert to the serial killer trope, especially in recent years. In the 26 years on screen, 196 characters have met their end – that’s 12 more than Corrie, even though the latter had a 35-year headstart!
Up at the top of the bad driving list with Hollyoaks is Emmerdale. It probably has the most picturesque location of all the UK soaps thanks to its Yorkshire Dales setting and is set up ‘perfectly’ for dangerous driving incidents. Since Emmerdale Farm was introduced in October 1972, the country roads have seen 30 fatal incidents for some of our favourite characters, at an average rate of 3.8 every 5 years. These range from the standard speeding offences to more extravagant countryside issues, such as people flipping their tractors.
Coronation Street has the Fewest Bad Drivers in Soap
The numbers don’t lie, and they show us that, statistically speaking, Coronation Street has the fewest bad drivers in the world of soap. Since the cobbles first opened way back in December 1960, there has been an average of 2.35 incidents every 5 years relating to characters being bumped off via bad driving or car accidents.
Since poor Ida Barlow was run over in September 1961, 29 of our favourite fictional Wetherfield residents have met their end via some form of vehicle-related doom. It’s fair to say that the layout of the street is not ideal for those stumbling out of The Rovers Return, as a few of the unfortunate souls have shot their final scene due to a fellow resident speeding down the cobbles. It’s surprisingly at a lower rate than its other UK soap counterparts, though.
The most famous act of terrible driving on the street has to be when the unhinged Richard Hillman kidnapped the Platts and drove Gail, Sarah, David and Bethany into the canal. Thankfully, only Richard himself perished in the incident, which was a lucky escape for one of the street’s most popular families.
Eastenders has the Lowest Total Bad Driving Incidents
Albert Square in Walford has seen 19 devastating incidents of dangerous driving in the 36 years on TV, with the likes of Jamie Mitchell and Mel Owen meeting their end. When looking at the reasons why the rate of 2.6 every 5 years might be lower than the likes of Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, despite Phil Mitchell owning Mitchell’s Autos Garage, the Square itself isn’t necessarily built for cars speeding around the block. The market traders and their stalls tend to get in the way… though that didn’t stop an out-of-control bus crashing through it in 2017.
14% of UK Soap Deaths are from Car Accidents
When deciding how they’re going to write the next lot of characters out of their shows, soap writers tend to think on the crazy side. We’ve had plane crashes, impalings, shootings and people pushed off cliffs, but 14% of all fatalities in UK soaps are via car accidents and crashes.
Considering the fact that road traffic accidents only account for 0.5% of all fatalities overall in the real world, it’s clear that soaps tend to steer away from the more morbid and ‘close to home’ causes of death, instead looking towards the more ‘out of this world’ and unrealistic issues.
Don’t Drive With the Butchers
Soaps are often built on being a family affair, and it turns out terrible driving runs in certain families too. For instance, three different members of the Butcher family have bumped off fellow Albert Square residents via dangerous driving. It all started with Pat Butcher hitting Stephanie Watson in her taxi on Christmas Eve 1992, for which she was subsequently jailed. Then, Frank Butcher ran over Tiffany Mitchell on New Year’s Eve 1998. To complete the Butcher trifecta, it was followed up 11 years later with the unhinged Janine speeding over Ronnie Mitchell’s daughter Danielle Jones.
The family theme continues in various ways, such as the tragic circumstances for the White family in Emmerdale. Back in January 2018, an accident caused by Lachlan White brought the demise of his grandfather Lawrence and mother Chrissie.
Driving Tips Inspired By Soaps
If you ever find yourself driving through country roads similar to those found in Emmerdale or down a cobbled street like Corrie, we have some top tips for ensuring you drive safely. Country roads are statistically the most dangerous for young drivers in particular, with the AA stating that 71% of all fatal crashes for young drivers in the UK occur on rural roads.
If you live in more of an urban area, as seen in Eastenders or Coronation Street, driving can be a much more different challenge, so we’ve included tips that are relevant for driving on cobbled streets, too.
1. Always Expect a Hazard
You never know what could be around the corner, so make sure you’re always alert in case there are wild animals, walkers or cyclists. Country roads are also usually much more narrow, so be aware that there may be an oncoming car in the near future.
2. Keep Your Speed Down
It goes without saying that country roads are dangerous to drive on, and people can be tempted to feel as if it’s alright to speed due to a lack of other cars and speed cameras. However, country roads are often the most dangerous to speed on, due to being narrow and having poor visibility. Always err on the side of caution and stay comfortable and safe behind the wheel.
3. Use Clues and Convex Mirrors
Convex mirrors are often deployed on the corners of country roads, where it’s difficult to see around a corner. When they are present, you should always use them to check for any hazards that may be lying ahead. Other clues that can show it’s a dangerous road are things like broken fencing, skid marks and potholes.
4. Don’t Overtake Unless Completely Safe
As mentioned, these roads will be more narrow than the standard roads found in the city. Therefore, overtaking becomes extremely difficult and our advice would be to avoid it unless you are 100% certain it is safe to do so. Don’t ever overtake on a country road corner, and make sure there are no potential right turns for cars in front. You may also find horses, sheep or cows on the road, so be sure to give them time and space, in order to not spook them.
5. Start with a Full Tank
If you know you’re going to be driving along country roads for long periods of time, make sure you start your journey with a full tank, as petrol stations can often be difficult to come by. You don’t want to be stranded on a country road with no fuel! If you have an electric vehicle, make sure it’s fully charged and that you know there’s enough charge to make it the full distance.
6. Look Out for One-Way Streets
In condensed spaces such as the inner city, some streets may be reduced to a one-way system, so you have to keep your eye out for the relevant signs. You don’t want to be stung with a fine or worse, cause an accident, due to driving the wrong way down a street.
7. Some Areas May Be Pedestrian Only
Albert Square in Walford is famous for its market stalls, and thus, doesn’t allow cars to drive through during. Therefore, you may find that some inner-city roads may be closed for vehicles and are listed as pedestrian only. It goes without saying that you want to avoid these at all costs.
8. Double Check Your Tyres
The cobbles similar to those on Coronation Street can be tough on the wheels of your car, especially if you are going back and forth on them quite frequently. It’s always best to check your tyres regularly to see if there is any damage, or if they need a bit of air in them.
9. Don’t Drive Too Quickly
If you speed across a cobbled street, you could end up damaging your car due to the bumpy nature of the surface. There could be issues such as chipping the paintwork on the bumper or damaging the suspension of the car. Just slow it down.
10. Watch Out for People
Cobbled streets are often found in inner-city areas and are frequented by pedestrians. This means there will often be pedestrians that feel like it’s safe to just step onto the road. You’ll need to be on alert at all times, as they may not see you coming. Avoid disaster as best you can.
Will Bullen of Xcite Car Leasing added: “While soaps display a lot of real-life drama, we don’t recommend following some of their driving skills – being safe on any road is the most important thing. Make sure you are prepared for any journey and know your route. Check your vehicle before any long-distance travelling, keep to the speed limit and always be aware of your surroundings.”