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How well do people know the Highway Code?

Reading time: 5 minutes

First4Lawyers, February 20, 2019

First4Lawyers quizzed more than 2,500 people to see how well they know the Highway Code, and you know what? Not one person scored 100%

The highest score was 95% - not a bad effort, but the average was a pretty poor 59%.

Think you could do better?  Take the quiz to test yourself before reading where others went wrong.

The best and the worst

Our worst scored question was regarding pavements (the most exciting part of the Highway Code of course!).

Only 6% of people knew that (excluding London) you can drive on the pavement to park, access your property, or when it’s an emergency.

In comparison, 48% believed you couldn’t drive on the pavement at all, while 35% thought you could, but only when accessing your property or in an emergency.

Luckily, almost 100% knew that you cannot throw anything out of your car window. Five people thought that you can throw biodegradable items such as bananas, while seven thought you could throw anything as long as it does not impede other road users.

So at least we’ve weeded out those who don’t know how to use a bin!

Staying safe

Do you know what you should use your horn for? Because only 12% of those we surveyed do.

The correct answer is that you should only use your horn when another car is posing a danger to you, but 53% thought it was there to alert other drivers to your presence, while 35% thought that the answer was a combination of the two.

Shockingly, only 22% knew when you’re permitted to use your phone while driving, but luckily their answers suggest that drivers would rather be safe than follow the Highway Code to a tee:

  • 50% thought that when driving you cannot use your phone at all, while
  • 23% thought you could only do so when the engine is off.

While neither of these are correct  - the answer is, you can use your phone on hands-free, or when you need to call the emergency services and it is unsafe to stop - it is  reassuring to see that the majority of people believe that you shouldn’t use your phone behind the wheel, whatever the circumstances.

Do you know…

  • When you can cross double white lines on the road?

    You can cross double white lines in the centre of the road to overtake something travelling at 10mph or under, or when turning into a side road or adjoining premises.

    Only 22% knew this and 39% thought the lines should never be crossed because they are ‘there for a reason’.

    29% thought they could only be crossed when turning into a side road or adjoining premises.

  • How close to a junction you can park?

    The correct answer is 10 metres, yet 22% of people thought it was half this amount. Only 38% of respondents answered this correctly.

 

  • What do you do if you break down on the motorway with pets in the car?

    The answer is you should leave your pets in the car. Unsurprisingly, 70% believed you should remove them from the car and keep them on a lead behind the barrier, but this is only the case when it’s an emergency, not if you’ve broken down. Only 30% got this one right

 

The good news

It’s not all bad news though, there were some questions that scored highly with almost everyone.

  • 99% of people knew that at zebra crossings you should check that traffic has completely stopped before stepping out. Although a worrying 17 people thought that you can cross as soon as you reach the crossing because traffic should stop for you! (Let’s avoid walking down the road with those people!).

  • Did you know that you can never drive over painted mini roundabouts? Well luckily so did 95% of those we quizzed. Although a cheeky 109 people admitted to thinking you can drive over them when there’s no one else around.

  • Most respondents – 79% - were also aware that you must only flash your headlights to let others know you are there.

  • A healthy 91% of people also knew that signalling does not give you priority.

  • 83% knew you cannot sleep in your car when drunk.

 

Split decisions

There were quite a few split answers, especially questions about the use of motorways and dual carriageways.

  • 47% of people knew that you can undertake (pass a car on its left hand side) when in congested conditions on a multi-lane carriageway, or when the vehicle in the right hand lane is turning right.

    However, the other half of the respondents were split on their answers, with the majority (30%) believing that you can only do so when the car in the right hand lane is turning right.

  • Similarly, 47% knew that vehicles towing a caravan must not exceed 60mph, even on the motorway, while 39% believed the limit to be 50mph.

More knowledge needed

All in all in appears that no one knows the Highway Code inside and out, and while in the words of The Office US’ character Pam Beesley: pobodys nerfect, it appears that a few more people may need to have a reread of the code.

The Highway Code is there for a reason, and if you were to get in an accident having broken it, you could be prosecuted for careless driving or dangerous driving.

In 2016 there were 181,384 accidents that involved casualties, with 1,792 fatalities. Don’t become one of these statistics just because you don’t know the rules of the road.

Hayley Sayers, spokesperson for Brake said: “It is important that drivers are competent road users.  This involves both knowing how to operate a vehicle and knowing the rules of the road.  The main objective of the Highway Code is to keep you, those in the car with you, other road users and pedestrians safe.

“The Highway code is continually amended to mirror advances in technology and best practice.  Therefore, someone who passed their driving test some time ago may no longer know the full extent of the code. We would encourage drivers to revisit the Highway Code regularly to keep up to date with the latest changes.”

 

How well do you know the highway code