Aug 272016

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

  6 Responses to “Are you reading the road correctly while driving?”

  1. Interesting – if rather scary. But surely, an article like this should at least end with an accurate description of what each sign means. I know some of them are identified within the text, but by no means all.

    I believe I got them all right (clever me!) but it would have been nice to be sure.

  2. Road signage far too numerous and complicated especially as one needs to concentrate more and more these days on what’s happening around ie speed and amount of traffic on our very busy roads.

  3. I would suggest that anybody who has been driving, like myself, for a long time should take an advanced driving course and then their test. I took mine after retiring age with the IAM and it was an eye opener but I passed and learnt a lot during the course.

  4. Could you give the answers please. I was right on D, G and H, would have got I if I had had to think about it, was wrong on E, am confident on B, C and F (the 3 highest scorers) and think I know A and H when I see them on the road I would like to see the answers as I am sure many people would

  5. This is interesting. I have always been in favour of driver re testing at periodic intervals. I teach people to drive and know that when drivers pass, they throw away all safe procedures and do what they like. I ca’t believe that up to 94% of all accidents are caused by driver error, yet we MOT all cars over three years old but somehow don’t MOT drivers.If the policy makers are serious about Road Safety, then that should be their priority. What is the point of targeting driving test, when the the new drivers are just going to follow everyone else, who drive badly, tailgate, don’t signal correctly etc, etc. I could go on, but I think I have made my point. Re test drivers periodically, then you have a better chance of improving road safety.

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