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Sometimes our worst fears are realized, and a new survey by Insurance.com proves it.

We asked 2,000 drivers (half men and half women) about their most embarrassing driving mistakes, including what they feared most, selecting from a list of 17 gaffes.

When asked what driving mistakes they fear most, 24 percent of drivers say “almost hitting a person” – and 9 percent say they’ve done this. The other top fears are also frequent occurrences:  locking keys in the car (feared by 22 percent) and going the wrong way down a one-way street (feared by 19 percent).

More than half of drivers have forgotten where they’ve parked, making it the No. 1 driving embarrassment.

 Here are the “embarrassing” rankings, including results broken down by gender:

  1. Top Driving EmbarrassmentsForgot where they parked: 52 percent (men: 44 percent; women: 59 percent)
  2. Drove over a curb in a parking lot: 43 percent (men: 35 percent; women: 51 percent)
  3. Locked keys in the car: 37 percent (men: 34 percent; women: 41 percent)
  4. Gone the wrong way down a one-way street: 34 percent (men:  30 percent; women: 38 percent)
  5. Driven away with something on the roof, such as coffee or a purse: 31 percent (men: 28 percent; women: 34 percent)
  6. Tried to open a car door and realized it wasn’t your car: 29 percent (men: 24 percent; women: 34 percent)
  7. Couldn’t back out of a parking spot because other cars or objects were too close: 27 percent (men: 21 percent; women: 33 percent)
  8. Dropped your money or food at a drive-thru window:  26 percent (men: 23 percent; women: 28 percent)
  9. Accidentally started your car’s panic alarm and couldn’t turn it off quickly: 22 percent (men: 18 percent; women: 26 percent)
  10. Lost toll ticket at the payment booth: 18 percent (men: 18 percent; women: 17 percent)
  11. Couldn’t get out of a round-about and kept driving in circles: 13 percent (men: 12 percent; women: 13 percent).
  12. Gotten pulled over and didn’t have license, registration and/or insurance: 11 percent (men: 11 percent; women: 11 percent).
  13. Driven away from a gas pump with the nozzle still in your tank:  11 percent (men: 14 percent; women: 7 percent).
  14. Not able to work key remote to get into your car: 9 percent (men: 10 percent; women: 8 percent).
  15. Almost hit a person: 9 percent (men: 8 percent; women: 9 percent).
  16. Forgot a passenger and had to go back: 8 percent (men: 11 percent; women: 6 percent).
  17. Gotten in a car and realized it wasn’t your car: 8 percent (men: 7 percent; women: 8 percent).

More than 90 percent of drivers copped to at least one embarrassing gaffe; men admitted to an average of 3.5 and women to an average of 4.2. Nearly 5 percent of drivers admitted to 10 or more.

Women admitted to far more embarrassing driving mistakes than men.

Men are more likely to misplace their toll tickets, drive away from a gas pump with the nozzle still in their tank, be unable to work their key remote, and forget a passenger and have to go back.

Embarrassing insurance claims

Forty percent of drivers who have suffered driving embarrassments say at least one of them resulted in car damage.

Here are the top gaffes and the auto insurance that will cover them:

  • Driving over curbs: Covered by collision insurance.
  • Locking keys in the car (and presumably breaking in to get them): Insurance will not pay for intentional damage, even if you’re trying to get your keys, although some policies offer roadside assistance.
  •  Driving away from gas pumps with the nozzle still in: Any damage to the car would likely be covered by collision insurance; damage to the pump or gas station would be covered by liability insurance.


Insurance.com commissioned a survey of 2,000 licensed drivers, half men and half women, in April 2014.