The survey and results, conducted by the comparison website, uSwitch.com, found that just 1 per cent of respondents, answered all questions correctly. Overall, just over one in three people (34 per cent), scored less than 50 per cent and almost one in ten (8 per cent) got every question wrong. Simple questions such as being able to identify the national speed limit caught out a third of drivers; that equates to 13 million driving licence holders. This dangerous gap in people’s knowledge has potentially fatal consequences and, today alone, almost 1 million worth of insurance claims will be made every hour, over 16k per minute.
Every year, almost 7,300 car accidents (of which, 14 per cent are fatal) are caused by motorists exceeding the speed limit and over 16,000 (18 per cent of which fatal) are caused by people travelling too fast for the conditions. Disobeying Give Way’ or Stop’ sign markings cause nearly 5,500 accidents.
Worryingly, the results of the uSwitch.com test show that 8 out of 10 drivers do not know the correct shape of a Stop’ sign. Traffic lights also seem to cause confusion for motorists too. Over half (58 per cent) of drivers do not know who has priority when traffic lights fail and 53 per cent do not know the meaning of an amber traffic light on its own. Some of these may seem trivial, but 4,047 people are killed each year as a result.
Not knowing the Highway Code, if it results in accident and injury, has a severe knock on effect on car insurance premiums. Every individual claim adds an extra 193 (44 per cent) to drivers car insurance premiums, wiping out two years worth of no claims discount. In total, these claims increase the cost of car insurance by 854 million.
Ashton Berkhauer, insurance expert at uSwitch.com, said: “The Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly, highlighted some important issues last month with the Government’s plans to combat fatalities among new drivers. Unfortunately, our research has shown that lack of basic Highway Code knowledge is a wider issue for all drivers. We agree that tougher driving tests will improve the standard of new drivers but this doesn’t go far enough to combat the problems with so called experienced drivers’.
He continued: Although the total number of road accidents is falling by about 5 per cent each year, it’s worrying that many of the accidents can be directly linked to gaps in driver knowledge. It seems that some motorists forget the rules of the road as quickly as they tear up their L-plates. In fact, over 30 million motorists have never been tested on driving theory, suggesting a need for tougher testing. This could lead to fewer accidents, safer roads and lower insurance premiums for all, allowing consumers to save money at a time when it is hard to come by.