Land of confusion: UK motorists failing to read the signs

Road sign

How well do you know the rules of the road? Here’s a question to get you started.

What is the meaning of a set of double yellow lines painted on the roadside? Is it:

  1. No stopping at any time
  2. No parking at any time
  3. No waiting at any time (unless signs indicate seasonal restrictions)
  4. No waiting between 7am and 10pm

If you answered ‘c’, well done. Give yourself a Tufty badge for your efforts. If you answered incorrectly, you’re not alone, because research carried out by Aviva found that only one driver in 10 knew the correct meaning of double yellow lines, while a range of road signs caused similar confusion.

‘Pedestrians in the road ahead’ and ‘no buses’ appear to create the most confusion, with only 45% of respondents recognising them when faced with multiple choice answers. Similarly, some drivers were left scratching their heads over ‘no motor vehicles’ and ‘no stopping’, with the signs being correctly named by 59% and 62% of motorists respectively.

Aviva questioned more than 1,500 UK drivers and, on average, people answered eight out of fifteen correctly, with only two motorists managing to achieve full marks. This is despite research in 2015 which suggested four out of five motorists classed themselves as safe drivers.

Other findings include:

  • 33% of drivers were unable correctly identify 60mph as the UK national speed limit on a single carriage A-road.
  • 10% of motorists weren’t aware that 70mph is the speed limit on UK motorways.
  • 20% of drivers failed to recognise the sign for ‘national speed limit applies’.
  • 35% couldn’t identify the ‘one way traffic’ sign.
  • 25% didn’t know the meaning of the sign for ‘no through road’, with 22% of drivers believing it to be a ‘T’ junction.
  • 70% of motorists didn’t know the stopping distance at 30mph.

In case you’re wondering, the stopping distance at 30mph is 23 metres.

Adam Beckett, propositions director for Aviva, said: “Most of us think of ourselves as safe drivers and we genuinely try to follow the rules of there road, but as our study shows, we might not always know what these rules are!

“The good news is there are lots of ways we can try to improve our road safety, [such as] reacquainting ourselves with the Highway Code. By identifying where we can improve and taking a few simple steps to make these changes, we can all try to help make UK roads safer for everyone.”

To find out how much you know about road safety, check out the Aviva quiz. More than 40,000 people have answered the questions, scoring an average of 8 out of 10. Can you do better? Let us know.

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