While many of us refuse to admit it, we’ve all been there – bumped into a parked car, presumed the damage was so minor that it wasn’t worth a fuss, and then considered driving off.

But to ‘dent and run’ is a criminal offence, no matter how minor the damage.

[Read more: Car left in car park for three years is finally towed away – after racking up a £14k parking ticket]

One in five UK drivers admit that they have damaged another car and left the scene without making the owner aware of the incident, new research has revealed.

A study by car search network Motors.co.uk looked into how many people have accidentally scratched, dented or damaged another car – and how they reacted to the incident.

A whopping 100% of over 1,000 drivers surveyed admitted to accidentally damaging another car. What they confessed to doing afterwards reveals some interesting results.

Of the drivers who ‘dented and ran’, over a third admitted that they didn’t feel guilty about their oversight, despite more than a quarter of them doing a medium amount of damage, such as creating a noticeable dent in the car.

Men more likely to ‘dent and run’

Male drivers were much more likely to knock a car and flee, with 28% of men confessing to this compared to just 16% of women.
Younger people aged 18 to 24 were the least likely to own up to the damage, with just over a third denting and running.

They were also the least likely to feel guilty about the incident.

[Read more: Is age the biggest factor in determining your car insurance costs?]

Dermot Kelleher, Director of Marketing and Business Intelligence at Motors.co.uk, commented on the findings: “Doing damage to another car without owning up and exchanging insurance details is an important issue and people need to be aware that it is, in fact, a crime to do so.

“Accidents happen, especially in packed shopping centre car parks, but people should not be afraid to own up when they damage another person’s car.”

Don’t ever ‘dent and run’ – here’s what to do:

1. DON’T panic. Treat this as you would any other accident and remember to take a photo of any damage to their car and yours.
2. DO leave a note on the windscreen of the car with your name, address, phone number and an explanation of the accident – honesty is the best policy.
3. DO take a note of information about the vehicle – make, model and licence plate. Note any special circumstances that contributed to the accident (slippery roads, no light, vehicle sticking out).
4. DON’T just leave without giving your information. If you do get caught and haven’t owned up, you could end up with a charge for criminal damage.
5. DO decide with the third party whether you want to contact your insurance company or pay the repair bill yourself – but bear in mind that your insurer may require you to notify them of any accidents, even if it’s only minor and you don’t want to make a claim.

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