Study: Fewer than 10% of British Drivers Know What Common Road Signs Mean

It looks like the majority of Brits who took our recent quiz need to go back to driving school – or at least take their theory test again – after the results showed that fewer than 10% of participants know their stuff when it comes to the Highway Code!

Putting motorists’ road sign knowledge to the test to find out if they knew their no entries from their level crossings, our quiz was all about separating the seasoned motorists from automobile amateurs. The results were a bit of a mix, with some surprising – and not-so-surprising – outcomes.

A whopping 1,700 British motorists took the quiz, and we’ve analysed the results to find out who lays claim to the best road sign knowledge across the UK. Who knows, you could be one of the expert few who racked up full marks!

Which Region Really Knows the Rules of the Road?

In terms of location, the results were a little all over the place. The North East put in quite the showing, performing best out of any region. However, the rest of the North wasn’t quite so well informed, with both Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North West earning penultimate and last place respectively.

The southern regions fared poorly, earning 8th, 9th and joint 11th place overall, while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland proved their mettle, coming in near enough the top half of the final rankings. The full results of performance by region is as follows:

  1. North East
  2. East of England
  3. West Midlands
  4. Wales
  5. Scotland
  6. Northern Ireland
  7. East Midlands
  8. South East
  9. Greater London
  10. Yorkshire and the Humber
  11. North West & South West

The Road Signs Barely Any Drivers Understand

When it came to the signs that had motorists stumped, the results were telling. Despite being fairly common, more than half of motorists guessed the ‘no buses permitted’ sign incorrectly, while ‘mini-roundabout ahead’ put a quarter of Brits in a spin. The ‘end of controlled parking zone’ was answered correctly by only 1 in 5, too!

The ‘risk of grounding’ sign confused a third of drivers, with wrong answers ranging from ‘bumpy surface’ to ‘towing not permitted’, while the ‘level crossing without barrier or gate ahead’ posed its own set of problems. Drivers in the East and East Midlands struggled to identify it, while – get this – not a single London-based participant could guess the correct meaning. We’ll put this one down to the city’s lack of over-ground rail lines!

Take the Quiz – and See How You Score

Keen to find out how you stack up against your fellow motorists? Take a look at our chart below, where we’ve totted up who scored what.

Who Scored the Highest in Each Region?

Proving that wisdom really does come with age, Generation X (44-54) performed best with Baby Boomers (55+) closely following in second place, faring better than participants from other age groups. Millennials in the 25-34 age range came in third place while, perhaps unsurprisingly, Generation Z (18-24) performed the worst when it came to proving their road sign recognition - suggesting that testing standards for new drivers may be slipping.

But perhaps the most important result is how well these age groups performed in each region? Explore our interactive map to discover who rules the roads in your local area:

Gen Xers had Greater London, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber well represented, with the latter achieving a perfect 10 on average. Wales, South East, the East Midlands and the East of England belonged to the Baby Boomers, while the Millennials laid claim to the South West, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Lone representation came in the form of Xennials (those aged 35-44) who scored an average of 9/10 in the North East, and Gen Z in the North West, who ruled the roads with an average of 7.5.

Happy with your results or hanging your head in shame? However you did, at Brindley, we won’t judge. Head to the homepage to find your next car or get in touch today.

Added: 25 November 2019

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