10 Most Common Driving-Related Embarrassments

We all do things we’re not proud of, and when those instances occur in public, it’s considerably more embarrassing than if they were to happen to us at home. Add to that the potential of doing something you’re not proud of in an automobile, surrounded by others in some of the most publicly exposed regions on earth: roadways and parking lots.

The truth is, everyone has had their whoopsie daisy moments while behind the wheel or just interfacing with their car in general, and if they haven’t, they will. But what’s the most common embarrassing thing you can do when out and about? Insurance.com set out to find out exactly what that might be.

The site surveyed 2,000 drivers (half men and half women) and “asked them about their awkward driving flubs,” it said. “Respondents identified what they had done from a list of 17 driving embarrassments.” We’ve listed the top ten most common embarrassing episodes below for your reading enjoyment. Note that since we only included the top ten, and given the way the survey was calculated, the percentages may not equate to a round 100 percent (you can see the full report here.)

“It’s those moments when you hope nobody is watching,” said Des Toups, managing editor of Insurance.com, “You’re walking around, clicking your key fob repeatedly for some sign of your car, or you just took five tries to get into a parking space.”

Here are the top ten most embarrassing moments had while driving, which prove that no, you’re not alone.

Tollbooth on Merit Parkway

10. Lost toll ticket at the payment booth

This driving faux pas was experienced by some 18 percent of the responding body, and was pretty evenly split between gender: 18 percent of men said this has happened to them, and 17 percent of women agreed. Perhaps what makes this so awkward is that assuming you don’t have one of the automatic transponders, the traffic immediately begins piling up behind you — people already mildly perturbed that they have to break their 70-mile per hour stride to stop in the first place.

Source: Thinkstock

9. Accidentally started your car’s panic alarm and couldn’t turn it off quickly

This can be particularly bad for two reasons: one, car alarms are designed to be irritating, and two, they’re designed to call attention to the vehicle. Some when your alarm goes off and you’re standing next to it in a busy parking lot fumbling with your key fob and a growing number of people are glancing over, it’s certainly not a comfortable feeling (and imagine if there was a police officer in the vicinity.) Of the 2,000 survey respondents, 22 percent had experienced this embarrassing incident, and women more so than men; 26 percent of the ladies, compared to 18 percent of guys.

Source: Thinkstock

8. Dropped your money or food at a drive-through window

This scenario is particularly sucky since drive-through windows tend to be compact, and offer little to no room for maneuverability in the event that this happens. Drivers can rarely open their doors enough to retrieve said items, and it’s not making the server’s job any less stressful. Then, you have the line of grumpy and hungry drivers behind you who are tailing your bumper as close as humanly possible, so when you pull up enough to get your stuff, there’s already someone else in your place. About 26 percent of respondents (23 percent male, and 28 percent female) have had the displeasure of experiencing this situation.

Source: Thinkstock

7. Couldn’t back out of a parking spot because other cars or objects were too close

In some peoples’ defense, this one isn’t always your fault. Sometimes it’s the guy or gal who arrived after you, and parked so agonizingly close to your own vehicle that there’s no way to maneuver out it. At some point, there’s nothing else to do but wait until the other owner of the vehicle returns and you’ll be on your merry way. When it comes to navigating around close proximity objects, women are more likely to get stuck (33 percent) and men are less likely (21 percent), for 27 percent overall.

Source: Thinkstock

6. Tried to open a car door and realized it wasn’t your car

Like number seven, some of the blame for this incident can be attributed to your surroundings. You had no control over the same exact car that just happened to part immediately next to yours, and for bigger picture people who don’t pay as much attention to the details, it can get understandably confusing, especially in complex garages or parking areas. Nearly a third – 29 percent — of respondents have been in this situation, as about a quarter of males at 24 percent fared better than the women, at 34 percent.


5. Driven away with something on the roof, such as coffee or a purse

There are two kinds of people: seasoned drivers who have made this mistake, and seasoned drivers who lie about it. Over a third — 31 percent — of respondents have at one point absentmindedly left an object on the roof of their car as they pulled away. If we had to wager, we’d bet that the majority of those people are parents, and that the object left up top was a baby toy, sippy cup, the baby itself (though we sincerely hope otherwise), or the coffee that said parent hasn’t yet gotten a chance to indulge in. Women lead this category with 34 percent, and men bring up the tail with 28 percent.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Gone the wrong way down a one-way street

If you’ve ever been driving in a strange city, you have an idea of how easy it can be at times to inadvertently turn onto a side street meant for passage in one direction only. Perhaps worse, however, is that it’s among the more embarrassing — and dangerous, too — things you can do behind the wheel without intent, to say nothing of the traffic snarls that can come as a result of such actions. If you’ve done this, you join the 34 percent of survey respondents who have done the same — 30 percent were men, and 38 percent were women.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Locked keys in the car

This problem is perhaps not as embarrassing as it is completely inconvenient. Depending on your location when you lock yourself out, it can take upwards of an hour to get the necessary people out there to help out, and you’ll have to pay them for the privilege of letting you back in. Nowadays, keys are built with remote chips that can keep the car from locking if the keys are nearby, but 37 percent of respondents have still gone through this at one point or another — women, with 41 percent, again led by men at 34 percent.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Drove over a curb in a parking lot

Sometimes they just sneak up on you, man. Driving over a curb in a parking lot — which is to say, driving on the one place in the parking lot that’s not meant to be driven on — has been violated by the second highest percentage of people, at 43 percent (broken down further, women seem to have a harder time negotiating curbs at 51 percent, and men are somewhat better, at 35.)

Source: Thinkstock

1. Forgot where they parked

Finally, the number one most experienced embarrassing automotive adventure involves parking your car somewhere and forgetting it prior to your return. It might be easy to point at more absentminded elderly and senior drivers as the primary reason for bringing this issue to the forefront, but think about parking at a large concert or sporting event, and negotiating your way back without taking stock of your surroundings beforehand. See, it could happen to anyone.