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How well do you recognise road signs?
Check it again: 1/3 of motorists... do fail

Road signs

 Driving is more that the mechanical performance of a function.

13th June 2006.

At a time when everything is expected to be perfect, from others of course, we tend to forget the inherent imperfection of makind.

Yes, we expect from our car to be faultless, from our insurer to approve us quickly... the list can go on and on even to complain about weather as if rain has become a "bad service" from heaven, or an abnormal, "out-of-order" situation.

And of course, we expect from other drivers to be "error-free" and to understand traffic rules as good as we do. Or is it, as good as we think we do?

Road Sign Recognition

Age of Motorist

Success Rate

17-24 58 percent
25-34 53 percent
35-44 63 percent
45-54 62 percent
55-64 71 percent
65+ 62 percent
Gender of Motorist Success Rate
All 65.25 percent
Male 68.1 percent

62.4 percent

Poll: New Car Net. Sample of over 1,100 motorists.

Since we often forget that we're no more that the "others" of those others, what if we let figures tell us how fit to drive can some of us be?

According to a recent poll conducted by motoring website, New Car Net*, one in three motorists fail to recognise even the most basic road sign.

Overall, male drivers fared marginally better than their female counterparts, with a 68.1 percent success rate compared to 62.4 percent.

The biggest disparity in the battle of the sexes related to the ‘uneven road’ warning sign, illustrated by two humps inside a red triangle (bottom right in the photo... but we all know it of course). Just 53.7 percent of women correctly identified it, compared to 71.4 percent of men; a quarter of women thought it referred to a ‘hump backed bridge’.

Age also has an effect on a motorist’s ability to recognise road signs. Those aged between 55 and 64 are the most knowledgeable, whilst drivers in the 25-34 bracket are the worst – 71 percent to 53 percent respectively.

The age group typically associated with new drivers, 17-24 year olds, were alarmingly the second worst with 58 percent.

In the poll of over 1,100 motorists, less than 2 percent of respondents actually scored the maximum 100 percent score. Qualified visitors to New Car Net were asked to correctly identify ten basic road signs in a multiple-choice format similar to the current theory test.

It comes as no surprise to learn that the most universally recognised sign was also a common sight on Britain’s roads – the ‘two way traffic crosses one way road’ sign. The sign used to designate a segregated pedestrian and cycle route scored the worst.

“Time proves to be a good educator,” says Massimo Pini of New Car Net, “But it is a concern that so few of us on the road can remember the most basic of signs.”

“We seem to think that as long as we can mechanically perform the function of driving, we don’t need to worry about what a road sign is telling us anymore.”

* New Car Net was launched in 1997 as an independent UK new car buyer’s guide and has since gone on to become the premier online provider of automotive content in the UK with a recipient list that includes: Yahoo!, Times Online,, Wanadoo, Tiscali, Auto Trader and UK Online. The website itself is accessed by around 160,000 users every month generating over 2 million page impressions.

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