AA Driving School Survey

1 in 4 don't understand meaning of road signs

8 October 2008

A driving school instructor and pupil

Britain's cyclists need to be extra vigilant next time they take their bike on the streets according to the latest findings from the AA Driving School which show that nearly two thirds of the population (64%) were unable to correctly identify the 'Cycle Route Ahead' road sign.

Of the people surveyed, an average of 23% – almost one in four of the population – were unable to correctly identify Britain's road signs1.

It seems we're in for a bumpy ride too as four out of ten (42%) failed to recognise the correct meaning of 'Uneven Road', with a fifth (22%) thinking it meant speed bumps and another fifth (19%) believing it signified a double hump back bridge.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority (93%) understood the meaning of 'National Speed Limit Applies', although one in twenty (5%) were convinced it indicated 'No Stopping at Any Time'. This figure increases to one in twelve (8%) for female drivers, while dropping to just 2% of males.

Despite the Driving Theory Test being introduced in 1996 to aid and increase understanding of the Highway Code, it's the older generation of motorists (35 years and older) – those who did not have to take the Theory Test – who fared better. They scored better than the younger generation (18 to 34) 71% of the time2.

Top five least known road signs

  1. Cycle route ahead (64% wrong)
  2. Uneven road (42% wrong)
  3. Hump bridge (22% wrong)
  4. Steep hill downwards (16% wrong)
  5. National speed limit applies (7% wrong)

AA comment

Simon Douglas, director of the AA Driving School, comments: "The road signs we selected for this test are all common on British roads, so it's worrying that so many motorists don't fully understand their meaning. While strong intuition and an awareness of your surroundings are valuable skills to have when driving, there is no substitute for a sound knowledge of the Highway Code and drivers who don't know what these important signs mean may be putting lives at risk, including their own.

" AA Driving School offers a refresher course tailored to a driver's specific needs helping any motorist become more confident behind the wheel as well as refreshing knowledge of the Highway Code."

The results in full


National speed limit applies

National speed limit applies
Correct - 93%, Incorrect - 3%(male), 8%(female)

Those from the Midlands and Wales scored highest (95% correct) and Londoners scored the lowest (9% incorrect)


Slippery road

Slippery road
Correct - 95% (overall), 85% (18-24 years), 97% (55+ years)

The North and the South were both top of the charts in this category (97% correct) and Londoners scored the lowest (93% correct)



Steep hill downwards

Steep hill downwards
Correct - 84%, incorrect - 14% (male), 15% (female)

Londoners scored the highest (86% correct) and those from the Midlands and Wales scored the lowest (18% incorrect)



No stopping at any time

No stopping at any time
Correct - 94%, incorrect - 4% (male), 8% (female)

Those from the Midlands, Wales and the North all scored high in this category (95% correct) and those from the South and London both got the lowest scores (8% incorrect)


Hump bridge

hump bridge
Correct - 78% including 69% (18-24 years), and 75% (55+ years)

The South scored the highest in this category (80% correct) and Londoners scored the lowest (25% incorrect)


Cycle route ahead

Cycle route ahead
Correct - 36% including 40% (18-24 years) and 50% (55+ years)

Northerners scored the highest in this category (39% correct) and Londoners scored the lowest in this category (68% incorrect)


Uneven road

uneven road
Correct - 58%, incorrect 36% (male), 50% (female)

Those from the South scored the highest (63% correct) and Scots scored the lowest (46% correct)

Factfile

1Based on the average percentage for wrong responses given

2Older drivers (35+) scored higher than younger drivers (18 to 34) five times out of seven

Survey based on YouGov poll of 2000 people between 16 and 18 September 2008.

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08 October 2008