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Over 50% of British drivers haven't read the Highway Code since their test

By Mathilda Bartholomew | July 4, 2024

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Despite 24 updates to this essential motoring guide since 2015, many drivers remain uninformed about current road rules.

Over 50% of British drivers haven't read the Highway Code since their test

It’s an alarming fact: over half of British drivers haven’t revisited the Highway Code since they first passed their driving test. Despite 24 updates to this essential motoring guide since 2015, many drivers remain uninformed about current road rules. This gap in knowledge is causing concern among road safety experts.

Key Findings from a Nationwide Survey

To identify where drivers are falling short, Independent Advisor Car Insurance surveyed 2,010 drivers from across the UK. The survey aimed to uncover common areas of confusion regarding driving theory. The findings were revealing:

High Failure Rate:

88% of drivers couldn’t answer five basic driving theory questions correctly:

  1. Q1. What, if anything, do you think triangular road signs indicate?
  2. Q2. What lights, if any, do you think are appropriate to turn on when driving on the motorway at night, when there are cars ahead of you? 
  3. Q3. What, if anything, do you think the legal speed limit on a motorway is, if no signs indicate otherwise?
  4. Q4. When driving on a wet road, what time gap, if any, do you think you need to leave between your car and the car in front of you? 
  5. Q5. What, if anything, do you think you should do if you have to quickly slow down when driving on the motorway? 

Take Regit's latest Highway Code Quiz to test your knowledge.  

Regional Disparities:

The survey results varied significantly by region:

Rank Region Average number of Qs correct % of people who got <4 Qs correct
1 Greater London 2.85 64.1%
2 Northern Ireland 3.24 58.2%
3 North East 3.16 56.2%
4 North West 3.18 55.4%
5 Wales 3.16 55.0%
6 Yorkshire and the Humber 3.20 51.8%
7 East Midlands 3.31 50.3%
8 South East 3.39 50.0%
9 South West 3.39 48.6%
10 East of England 3.37 47.5%
11 West Midlands 3.33 44.1%
12 Scotland 3.45 43.4%

Greater London, Northern Ireland, and the North East topped the list for the poorest driving knowledge, with 64%, 58%, and 56% of drivers, respectively, failing to answer at least four questions correctly.

Scotland led in road safety awareness, with the highest percentage of drivers answering at least four questions correctly.

Young Drivers Struggling:

Nearly two-thirds of drivers aged 17 to 24 struggled with at least four questions, and 10% couldn’t answer any correctly.

Common Misconceptions

The survey highlighted some specific areas where knowledge was lacking:

Triangular Signs: 21% of drivers didn’t know these signs indicate warnings.

Motorway Lights: 20.75% incorrectly believed that main beam headlights are appropriate on motorways at night, which can dangerously blind other drivers.

Legal Speed Limits: Many drivers were unsure about the correct speed limits on motorways and the appropriate following distance on wet roads.

Tips for Safer Driving

Connor Campbell, an expert at Independent Advisor Car Insurance, emphasises the importance of staying informed and offers these top tips for responsible driving:

1. Regularly Review the Highway Code: Keeping up to date with the latest rules can prevent accidents and fines.

Take Regit's latest Highway Code Quiz to see how much you know.

2. Understand Road Signs: Recognising and reacting appropriately to road signs is crucial for safety.

3. Use Correct Lighting: Ensure you’re using the right lights to avoid dazzling other drivers.

4. Know Speed Limits: Being aware of speed limits helps in maintaining control and reducing accident risks.

5. Maintain Safe Distances: Always leave enough space between your car and the vehicle in front, especially in adverse conditions.

The findings from Independent Advisor Car Insurance’s survey underscore a pressing need for British drivers to refresh their driving knowledge. With road conditions and regulations continually evolving, staying informed is not just a legal obligation but a critical aspect of road safety. Regular reviews of the Highway Code and adherence to basic driving principles can make a significant difference in reducing accidents and enhancing overall road safety.

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