Driving dumb: A third of motorists don’t know all the rules of the road

Confused drivers in the UK

New research has revealed that over half of British motorists think the knowledge base of Britain’s drivers is severely lacking.

Breakdown cover provider Green Flag has investigated which rules and myths of the road are confusing British motorists the most. Twenty-seven percent of motorists believe that driving naked is illegal. While not as extreme, the perfectly legal act of driving barefoot is believed to be illegal by 23 percent of motorists. In spite of neither being illegal specifically, you may still be prosecuted if your state of clothing or footwear is seen as impeding your ability to operate the car. 

Conversely, there are also those motorists who are under cautious. Fourteen percent of motorists believe there is a ten percent leeway across all speed cameras. Another 16 percent believe that it’s perfectly legal to pull into the hard shoulder if you need the toilet.

Confused drivers in the UK

The top ten driving misconceptions

RankDriving Misconceptions
1 (35 per cent)It’s illegal to splash pedestrians while driving
2 (30 per cent)It’s illegal to drive with headphones in
3 (27 per cent)It’s illegal to drive naked
4 (23 per cent)It’s illegal to drive wearing no footwear
5 (22 per cent)It’s illegal to drive while wearing flip-flops
6 (21 per cent)It’s illegal to drive with the light on in your car
7 (16 per cent)It’s illegal for car passengers to drink an excessive amount of alcohol on a car journey
8 (12 per cent)Men are more dangerous drivers
9 (11 per cent)You can use your phone while your car is stationary in traffic/at traffic lights
10 (11 per cent)If a speed camera doesn’t flash, it means you haven’t been caught

Thirteen percent of motorists have admitted to being caught out by rules they weren’t fully up on. As for the most common things to be caught doing wrong? As you might imagine, speeding is up there, as is not wearing a seatbelt. Many are caught driving in bus lanes too.

Many Brits are repeat offenders, too. On average, three driving rules a month are knowingly broken by British drivers. Twenty-three percent admit to doing so at least once a week.

Avoiding driving myths and staying legal

Confused drivers in the UK

  1. Be cautious. If it sounds odd or illegal, the chances are it is. As an example, even though driving naked or barefoot isn’t, there are extenuating circumstances where you can be penilised.
  2. Use the loo. Avoid risking illegal hard shoulder bathroom breaks by getting done what needs to be done, before you drive. 
  3. Avoid your phone altogether while behind the wheel. The only circumstance where you can use a phone in your car is when you’re pulled over and the car isn’t running.
  4. Stick to speed limits. More often than not, speeding doesn’t pay. If you’re unsure of the limit, pull over and check.
  5. Check the Highway Code. Reading the rules of the road can go a long way.

“Confusion is clearly rife among motorists when it comes to what they can and can’t do on the roads,” said Steve Fowler editor-in-chief at Auto Express.

“However, it’s everyone’s responsibility to know the laws of the land, so if you’re in any doubt it’s always best to check. Ultimately, the rules are there to keep drivers safe, which is the most important thing”.

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