A new survey conducted by Warranty Direct has revealed a worrying lack of awareness when it comes to knowledge on UK driving laws. Areas of particular weakness include understanding road safety, general vehicle rules and interpretation of The Highway Code.
A report from the Department of Transport, recently revealed there were 195,576 reported driving accidents, resulting in 78,683 casualties in 2014. Despite the general public showing concern over such data, it seems the country still has a long way to go when it comes to improving their knowledge of the road.
Awareness regarding motorway driving in particular produced some troubling results. A quarter of respondents thought it was legal to both overtake and undertake on the motorway, and nearly a third think you’re allowed to pull over and sleep on the hard shoulder if you can’t find a rest stop! These are clearly extremely dangerous practices to take part in.
50% of drivers thought it was fine to flash your lights to warn fellow drivers of a speed trap, in spite of a well-publicised case in 2011 of a man being fined £440 for doing so and in turn being accused of ‘obstructing the police’.
Staying with the topic of speed, many drivers could do with revising their mph to km/h figures, especially if they have a km/h speedo in their current car. According to 32% of respondents the national single carriageway speed limit in the UK is 112km/h or 70mph, when it is in fact 60mph, which means over a third of drivers may be breaking the speed limit, without even realising it!
Other laws drivers showed a high lack of awareness of, including:
(*percentage is number of correct answers):
- It is illegal to drive barefoot (47%)
- It is illegal to use your horn whilst stationary (38%)
- You can be charged with drink driving if you’re asleep in your (stationary) car (32%)
- Accelerating through a puddle can get you three points on your licence (31%)
- You are not obliged to wear a seatbelt whilst reversing (8%)
When presented with a selection of ‘real’ and ‘fake’ driving laws just four out of the 10 genuine driving laws were spotted by more than 50% of respondents, and a high proportion of the public were also fooled into believing that a number of false laws were true.
These included having to notify the DVLA if you change your name, but not your gender (45%) and thinking you have to be able to read a post-2001 licence plate from 10 metres away (47%), when it’s actually 20 metres.
Commenting on the results of the Warranty Direct survey, Chief Operating Officer, Philip Ward said: “Our latest survey reveals there is a strong need for UK drivers to brush up on their knowledge of driving laws. The results suggest many mistakes made could be down to not knowing the appropriate laws, which can be easily rectified. We recommend any unsure drivers to re-read a copy of the Highway Code to avoid causing any dangerous situations when out on the road. ”
New research for Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest automotive servicing and repair company, has revealed that the average driver knows only 79% of UK road sign meanings, with one in five road signs a mystery.
For two in five drivers, not being able to understand a sign or being confused over its meaning has led to problems on the road. The most common mistakes due to misinterpreting road signs are breaking the speed limit (16%), braking suddenly (15%) and having to slow down, causing traffic to build up (9%).
Perhaps recognising the gaps in their knowledge, the majority of drivers believe that the driving theory and hazard perception tests should be retaken throughout people’s motoring lives, with more than half (53%) thinking it should be repeated at least once every twenty years.
When researchers for Kwik Fit tested drivers on some specific UK roads signs and road markings, some significant gaps in their knowledge were revealed. Only one in ten drivers correctly identified the central white line markings which indicate a hazard ahead. In direct contrast to their true meaning, the vast majority (66%) believed that this line meant normal road conditions.
A circular white sign with a red border is worryingly unfamiliar to the majority of drivers, as only a quarter (27%) know that this means “all vehicles prohibited expect bicycles being pushed by pedestrians”. More than this number (30%) of drivers think it signifies a “red route – no waiting” while a further third (33%) admitted to not knowing.
While a white “C” on a red circle should be familiar to drivers in the capital, one in four Londoners (22%) don’t recognise this as signifying a congestion charging zone. In fact, 6% of Londoners think it means “caution children ahead” with 4% believing it marks a charging point for electric vehicles. Those drivers from outside London should take care if they are making a trip to the capital, as more than a third (34%) could not correctly identify the road sign, and so could find themselves risking a penalty fine.
Signs giving indications of speed caused confusion for a surprising number of drivers. Kwik Fit found that almost one in five drivers (19%) were flummoxed by the meaning of a white circle with a black diagonal bar. 5% thought this meant a 70 mph limit applied, 4% thought 60mph applied while 7% thought it meant no speed restrictions, something which doesn’t apply on any public road in the UK. The correct meaning is “national speed limit applies”.
As well as maximum speeds causing confusion, drivers are also in danger of being caught out by minimum speeds signs. A white 30 on a blue circle with a red diagonal line through it indicates the end of a 30mph minimum speed zone, something that could be identified by just one in four (25%) of drivers.
Two-thirds (68%) of UK adults believe that drivers should have to re-take the driving theory and hazard perception tests, with an average gap of every 15 years. Those who do currently drive would leave a longer period between tests, on average every 16.5 years, while non-drivers believe motorists should be retested every 11 years
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, says: “The findings show that although many of us think we are good drivers, we are ready to accept that we don’t know the meanings of all road signs. Our research showed that some surprising results, and indicated that there are some clear instructions and safety warnings which drivers are not picking up on when out on the road.
“While people can’t be expected to voluntarily retake their test, it would be a good idea for even those of us who have been driving a long time to make sure we really do know the correct meaning of road signs and markings.”
Answers to the signs above are as follows:
A – Warning of ‘Give Way’ just ahead
B – No Entry
C – Level Crossing without barrier
D – National Speed Limit applies
E – Hazard Warning Line
F – Side winds warning
G – End of minimum speed limit
H – Congestion Charge Zone just ahead
I – No vehicles except bicycles being pushed
J – Country Park attraction
Three new models recently launched by European manufacturers have been independently tested for safety by Euro NCAP. The Alfa Romeo Giulia, the SEAT Ateca and the VW Tiguan all reached five stars with safety equipment which is fitted as standard throughout the European Union.
From the beginning of this year, Euro NCAP applies a Dual Rating scheme where the default rating issued is based on standard safety equipment available throughout the range. Manufacturers may apply for a second rating, showing the additional safety provided by an optional pack, however, the Giulia, Ateca and Tiguan come with superior standard safety equipment as standard throughout Europe.
All three vehicles offer autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems that help to avoid or mitigate collisions between cars and with pedestrians. Testing of this important safety technology was introduced by Euro NCAP in 2014 for car crashes and this year for pedestrian crashes. The car industry has responded quickly and is fitting an increasing number of models with these life-saving systems.
Secretary General, Michiel van Ratingen, said: ‘Euro NCAP shows what can be achieved when governments, consumer groups and motoring clubs from across Europe collaborate. Together, we can exert an influence on the car industry that would be hard to achieve otherwise. We are glad to see some of the major manufacturers making safety equipment standard across EU28, although we know that markets outside the Eurozone are sometimes less well served.’
Nearly seven in 10 drivers don’t trust ‘black box’ technology to lower their insurance premiums by proving they are a better driver, according to research by Whatcar.com.
Telematics-based insurance policies monitor driving standards by accessing the data produced by a car either by fitting an electronic device inside the car or via a smartphone app. The policies are increasingly being aimed at young, new drivers, with insurance firms rewarding good driving with policy discounts.
However, while improving road safety is the main aim of the new policies, Whatcar.com’s study found the only reason the vast majority of drivers (89%) would use telematics insurance is to save cash, while fewer than two in five (39%) would choose to use it at all.
As well as fearing the ‘Big Brother’ element of having their driving constantly monitored, 67% of motorists said they wouldn’t trust a telematics device to prove they were a good driver.
Paul O’Dowd, head of sales for telematics provider In-Car Cleverness, said mistrust in telematics-based insurance policies may be justified because insurance companies predominantly use hard-wired telematics systems that rely solely on GPS-based data, as opposed to on-board diagnostics (OBD) systems which take data directly from the car.
The scoring systems used also don’t take into account advanced driving methods, as well as other pertinent factors like weather and road conditions, meaning the results can be inaccurate.
He said: “The GPS-based systems that many insurance companies currently use are flawed. The scoring mechanisms do not take into account scenarios that keep a driver safe in the event of a near miss, or advanced driving methods. If all insurers used OBD telematics devices, which capture data readings directly from the vehicle, false data would be significantly reduced.”
Whatcar.com’s editorial director, Jim Holder, said: “Black boxes do encourage safer driving up to a point, but it is also fair to say that it’s often the safest young drivers who choose to have telematics in their car – they would be safe drivers anyway.
“And, while it works to save money for some drivers, it’s important to remember that premiums can go up as well as down based on feedback from the telematics.”