Almost half of Brits have admitted they are clueless about the rules of the road – yet 97 per cent think they are good drivers.
Millions of motorists are putting themselves at risk with many saying drink drive limits, tyre treads and even speed limits are a mystery, new research has revealed.
Over half (55 per cent) were confused about how to tell they were in a 30mph zone while over a fifth (21 per cent) were oblivious to the national speed limit.
Baffled Brits had no idea it was illegal to let your wind screen washer liquid run dry (59 per cent), drive without a horn (38 per cent) or drive without windscreen wipers (24 per cent) a survey of 2,000 drivers showed.
Yet some misguided motorists wrongly believed it was against the law to drive in your underwear, fail to wear sunglasses when it’s sunny or drive with your dog in the car.
The survey was commissioned by road traffic offence specialists Slater and Gordon who have seen a growing number of cases where motorists have been prosecuted for breaking laws they had no idea existed.
Paul Reddy, lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “It’s disappointing but not a great surprise that so many drivers know so little about the rules of the road. Knowing the speed limit is the most basic fact motorists should know. If you don’t know the maximum speed you are putting yourself at risk of a fine, points or even losing your licence. In addition, if you go faster than the speed limit you have a much greater chance of being involved in or causing an accident.
“More and more motorists are coming to us after getting into trouble behind the wheel for breaking laws they genuinely didn’t know about. Our advice is that all drivers should read the Highway Code and keep up to date with the driving laws in the UK.”
Basic road safety such as knowing the stopping distance of a car travelling at 30mph flummoxed many motorists, while almost half didn’t realise they could be fined for driving without due care and attention if they were caught eating while behind the wheel.
Alarmingly more than four in in ten motorists didn’t know the legal drink drive limit, with many thinking there were different limits for men and women.
But most worrying was the number of people who thought it was acceptable to break the law when it comes to driving.
Taking others’ penalty points and claiming somebody else was driving at the time of a speeding offence were considered acceptable ways of dodging justice, while “fronting” car insurance, which is when an older, more experienced driver falsely insures a vehicle in their own name for somebody younger, was not considered wrong by many.
One in 10 were unsure if their insurance policy allowed them to drive other vehicles.
Paul Reddy, lawyer at Slater and Gordon, said: “It’s worrying to see the number of people who would be willing to break the law by taking penalty points for another person, particularly when this would attract a prison sentence if they were caught and convicted. One of the areas that we see more and more of is people thinking they can outsmart the system by claiming they couldn’t remember who was driving their car when they were caught speeding. They don’t realise that they can get in even more trouble if they do that and there has been a massive increase in convictions for people across the UK for this exact offence.
“The worst thing you can do is lie to the police or the courts. You might think you won’t get found out but if you do the penalties are a lot worse than the three points you would be likely to get for speeding.
“If the case goes to court then the fine can be unlimited. If you find yourself in trouble my advice would be to contact a specialist road traffic defence lawyer before doing anything else. You may have a legitimate and honest defence but you will need to get advice at the earliest opportunity to establish whether your defence is likely to be accepted by the courts or not.”
In addition to ignorance of the law many Brits were also clueless when it came to road signs, with several causing confusion, including: warning of a change in the width of the road, prohibiting cars carrying explosives and telling motorists they were not allowed to wait.
Test your knowledge of the Highway Code with our online quiz.