British motorists baffled by European road signs

Study reveals the top 10 most confusing European road signs

European road signs

If you’re planning a European road trip this summer, you might want to do a little homework before you leave. That’s the message from Easyjet and Europcar, with the claim that “Brits are left baffled when faced with European road signs.”

Research conducted by the two firms found that a European road trip is on the bucket list for half of all Brits, and more than a third plan to drive abroad this summer. Worryingly, 89 percent of the 2,000 motorists surveyed admitted having little or no understanding of foreign regulations.

If you’re one of the motorists who doesn’t know their ausfahrt from their umleitung or their arrêt from their toutes directions, you’re not alone. Professor Stuart Cole, Professor Emeritus of Transport at the University of South Wales, analysed 800 road signs across eight European countries to determine which territories left Brits baffled.

Italian roads most confusing

Fiat 500

The results? Seventy-eight percent of British motorists found Italian road signs to be the most confusing, followed by Portugal (69 percent) and France (68 percent). The professor said: “Unfamiliar roads can be daunting for Brits travelling abroad due to the lack of expertise in foreign regulations and road signs.

“European laws mean that many rules are similar. However, Brits should take the time to look through the traffic laws and signs of where they’re travelling to give them peace of mind to enjoy their trip”.

Kim McDonnell, Head of Proposition at Easyjet, said: “Brits are in holiday mode once they’ve boarded a plane, but a car at their arrival destination gives them the freedom to enjoy and create their own holiday.

“Our research shows that whilst fearful of unknown European roads, Britons love the notion of road-tripping across Europe because it offers flexibility and spontaneity.”

As part of the study, the researchers looked into the top 10 confusing European road signs. Take a look at the following signs and ask yourself if you’d know what they mean without some research. Be honest.

1. Alternative parking – i.e. no parking on the side of the number one on odd days and on the side of the number two on even days (Italy)

Alternative parking Italy

2. Indirect left turn (Italy)

Indirect left turn Italy

3. No vehicles carrying water pollutants (Switzerland/Portugal)

No vehicles carrying water pollutants

4. If you want to turn left from a main road then turn right first take the road shown to cross the road (Spain)

Indirect left turn Spain

5. Priority on turn (France)

Priority on turn France

6. Skiers allowed to cross road during these hours (Germany)

Skiers allowed to cross road Germany

7. No handcarts/wheelbarrows (France/Portugal)

No handcarts or wheelbarrows France

8. No parking on verges/shoulder (Germany)

No parking on verges Germany

9. Accident ahead that is blocking the road (France)

Accident ahead that's blocking the road

10. Emergency lane with gravel pit (Switzerland)

Emergency lane with gravel pit Switzerland

The research also revealed some of the obscure and quirky road laws you might encounter when travelling on the continent. Of those surveyed, Brits weren’t aware of the following European regulations:

  1. Filling your tank while your radio is still on in Spain could lead to a €91 fine (51%)
  2. Legally, you cannot wash your car on a Sunday in Switzerland (43%)
  3. In Romania, you’ll be fined if you’re driving a dirty car (42%)
  4. In Germany, you can legally drive naked as your car is considered a private space (29%)
  5. Drivers in Denmark must check for sleeping children underneath their cars before they set off (27%)

If you saw the European signs and they opened up your eyes, maybe you’d enjoy some Europop.

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Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Writer with a penchant for #FrenchTat. Also doing a passable impression of Cousin Eddie in an Italian-German beige motorhome.


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