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Do you know your basic Highway Code?

A section of a busy highway.

Question: what does a roundabout sign look like? Can you name its colour, shape, or design on the front?

If you're stuck, you're certainly not alone: a survey carried out by IAM RoadSmart last year found that, shockingly, over half of drivers wouldn't be able to recognise a roundabout sign.

Clearly, many drivers need to brush up on their Highway Code – something many people don't look at again once they've passed their test. Not knowing the meanings behind basic road signs you encounter every day could be really dangerous for you, your passengers and other road users.

The survey revealed a number of other road rules causing confusion among drivers. Let's take a look at what they are, and help to clear the air…

The two-second rule

In the road safety charity's survey, around 68% of the 1,000 drivers polled said they didn't know about the two-second rule for following a car in dry weather. This gap should be at least two seconds on faster roads and in tunnels with reduced visibility, and at least four seconds on wet or icy roads.

Over half (53%) of the drivers thought the rule was to leave a gap of two car lengths, as opposed to a two-second gap.

'Dual carriageway ends' sign

If you don't recognise a roundabout sign, you might also struggle with a 'dual carriageway ends' sign. Only 43% of drivers in the study knew what it was, with those aged between 17 and 39 most likely to get it wrong. Here's a list of road signs including 'dual carriageway ends' – a triangle with a red border displaying two vertical, black lines merging into one – and some others that you may be less familiar with.

More than half of those polled didn't realise what a circular sign demonstrates, with drivers aged over 70 statistically most likely to get the answer wrong. Remember, triangles give warnings, circles give orders and rectangles inform.

At the scene of a crash

In the event of a serious crash, 48% didn't realise the first thing you should do is switch on the car's hazard warning lights to warn other drivers of the incident. That is, after making sure the car's engine is switched off.

If it's a minor bump, it's OK to move the cars if they're obstructing the road. But if it's a major incident and people are hurt, you should call the police on 999 (and an ambulance too, if necessary) as quickly as possible.

Reflective motorway studs

Do you know the colour of the reflective studs between a motorway and slip road? If you answered 'green', you're right. Two thirds of drivers in the survey didn't answer correctly, and just 20% of those aged 17–39 got it right.

These are likely to be just a handful of areas under the Highway Code where drivers need to brush up on their knowledge. It's best to refresh your memory every few years, or if you ever find yourself starting at a basic road sign not knowing what it means.

As well as learning the Highway Code inside out, taking out quality car insurance will help you to stay safe on the road. Get a competitive quote with Hastings Direct today.

Car insurance

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