Does a lack of knowledge really matter?

A survey by Halfords revealed that more than half of UK drivers do not know the basic rules of driving.

10 questions posed to 4,500 drivers ranged from road signs to the drink driving laws, with 59% of participants failing the test and only 11% answering all questions correctly.

This may come as a shock to many people but I’m not surprised at all. E-Training World’s online driver risk assessment is broken down into 4 sections; namely ‘Attitude’, ‘Knowledge’, ‘Concentration/Observation’ and ‘Hazard Perception’.

The section that repeatedly causes drivers the biggest problem is the knowledge section, with more than a quarter showing a really concerning lack of understanding of road signs and laws. Some might argue that not knowing the rules of the road isn’t as serious as tailgating, driving at dangerous speeds or other actions that are the common causes of accidents.

I couldn’t disagree more. Road signs are there to guide and warn us while on the road, and the laws that govern our driving are there to make our roads safe. Drivers who lack basic knowledge cannot conduct themselves within the law, or react to signs, if they don’t know what they are or mean.

Lets move off the topic of driving for a moment and imagine this was the case for airline pilots or surgeons. How comfortable would you feel sitting in a cockpit and a warning comes up for the pilot to ignore it saying, ‘I have no idea what that means!’ The same with a surgeon, looking at a monitor with a warning message and not understanding what it is telling them.

If these professions lacked basic knowledge, you wouldn’t put your life in their hands. Yet as road users we all have to trust the actions of other drivers every day, and we are, effectively, putting our lives in their hands too – assuming other road users will stop at red lights, will respect rights of way and will be reacting to road laws and signs so that we can predict their actions and drive with confidence.

If you doubt the validity of this argument, next time you are in your car try saying out loud what every sign, road marking and road law means so that you are forced to prove to yourself whether your knowledge is up to scratch.

Alternatively, why not assess your own drivers and see how good their knowledge is. You may find yourself distributing copies of the Highway Code around the office, and considering training to improve driver knowledge, if your drivers sit within our national averages.