A sheep on the passenger seat, a driving instructor wearing a crash helmet and a motorist drinking a cup of tea. These are just a few the unusual sights encountered while driving, according to a new study from Aviva.

The results come from a poll of 4,000 UK adults, including nearly 3,000 drivers. It comes as Aviva launches a campaign  encouraging people to celebrate the pleasantly surprising side of driving.

Expect the unexpected

The phrase ‘expect the unexpected’ seems to be particularly apt while driving. Nine out of ten drivers admit to encountering unusual sights on the road.

Nearly a quarter of motorists have seen pets in the driver’s seat (24%), while more than a third (35%) have enjoyed watching people singing and dancing in other vehicles. A further 6% of drivers claim to have seen naked people at the wheel.

Other sights reported through the survey include a pig being taken for a walk at the roadside. There were also reports of blow-drying hair with the vehicle fan heaters, even a rotary clothes dryer on top of a camper-van with garments still pegged on it.

More shocking sights include a mobility scooter on a slip-road to a motorway, people driving the wrong way around roundabouts and drivers reversing on motorways when they’ve missed an exit.

Just in case

The study also discovered unusual sights can be found inside vehicles as well as out. People often carry things as good luck charms or ‘just in case’.

Such articles include a mini-toilet, emergency sugar and tomato ketchup, even cat litter to deal with snowy roads in winter! There are also reports of a pair of roller skates, a kettle, a toy wombat and a leprechaun. One person even claimed to travel with a selection of their children’s teeth in their car.

Among the more commonly found unusual items, 11% of drivers keep cutlery in their vehicles, 8% stash a spare toothbrush in their car, and 6% have a change of underwear at the ready.

More than motoring

The study also revealed the majority of motorists use road trips for more than simply getting from A to B. More than a third of drivers (34%) use a journey as a chance to wind down. A quarter (23%) have used a drive as a therapeutic way to think through a difficult decision.

One in four drivers have taken a job interview in a car (27%). Meanwhile, one in eight (13%) have used a trip as an opportunity to have an awkward conversation with another person in the vehicle.

Romance is also present in the car, though some details are best kept secret. But 9% of motorists have used the opportunity to tell someone they love them while on a car journey. Another 4% of drivers have actually popped the question and proposed marriage while on a road trip.

Nicki Charles, GI UK&I Customer & Marketing Director, Aviva describes the study’s results as “illuminating”.

“It’s clear that so many people cherish their cars and relish their road trips. We’d encourage drivers and passengers to embrace the unexpected and make the most of their journeys.

“We’ve discovered some really heart-warming insights regarding the conversations people have in their cars. A journey isn’t always about simply getting from A to B. It can be an opportunity to connect with another person – maybe have a difficult chat you’ve been putting off or say the thing you’ve been wanting to say. And with four per cent of people actually proposing on a car journey, there are some pretty amazing conversations to be had!”

You can find out more about the Aviva campaign here.