The UK’s most misunderstood road signs

Reckon you know your road signs? Well, many people don't. Let's find out the ones that mystify the most.....

So you think you know what the UK’s road signs mean, but do you really?

Road signs

After all, everyone has to learn them to pass their driving test. But some of us become rusty, and some of the more obscure ones we may have never known in the first place.

A survey conducted by number plates provider asked 1220 active drivers across the country the correct meaning of 12 common signs.

We’ve ranked them in order, starting with the most understood and working our way up to the most misunderstood road sign in the country. Let’s take a look.

Slideshow story – please click the right-hand arrow above to continue 

12: Side winds

Side winds

The Highway Code sign drivers are most confident with is ‘side winds’, with 93% (1,135) answering correctly, and just 7% answering incorrectly.

11: Keep left

Keep left

The second-best result comes from the ‘keep left’ traffic sign, with 75% (915) successfully able to identify it. Worryingly, 25% could not.

10: No waiting

No waiting

This sign was correctly identified by 59% of respondents – 720 in total.

9: No stopping

No stopping

This very important sign was correctly identified by 58% of respondents – 708 – in total. Crucial that drivers are able to identify it, as ignoring such a sign can warrant a hefty fine.

8: Level crossing without barrier

Level crossing without barrier

A total of 57% or 695 people answered this one correctly. This is an important one to know – unmanned level crossings without barriers need to be approached and crossed with extreme caution.

7: Route to be used by pedal cycles only

Route to be used by pedal cycles only

Just over half (54%) of people answered this one correctly. A very important sign, and one with important safety implications.

Let’s take a look at the signs the majority got wrong.

6: Turn left

Turn left

This one seems pretty obvious, but a full 54% of respondents answered it incorrectly. It's important since turning the wrong way will often mean you're driving the wrong way down a one-way street – big problem.

5: Recommended route for pedal cycles

Recommended route for pedal cycles

A whole 57% of survey respondents got this one wrong – it's an important one to know, whether you’re a cyclist or not, for safety reasons.

4: No entry for vehicular traffic

No entry for vehicular traffic

One of the most common signs on UK roads, its’ rather worrying that a full 62% of respondents got this one wrong.

Now, let's take a look at the top three...

3: Minimum speed

Minimum speed

Everyone is aware that speed limits exist, but fewer know that minimum speeds also exist on certain roads – for example those in tunnels. A full 70% answered this one incorrectly.

Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a set minimum speed even on motorways. However, if a police officer believes your slow speed is causing a danger, you could be prosecuted for careless driving.

2: With-flow bus lane ahead which pedal cycles and taxis may also use

With-flow bus and cycle lane

This sign’s official meaning is a bit of a mouthful, which may explain why a full 72% of respondents couldn’t explain it properly.

1: With-flow bus and cycle lane

With-flow bus and cycle lane

And the UK’s most misunderstood road sign is… this one. A full 79% of respondents couldn’t properly explain it. Keep out of this lane unless you’re a bus or a pedal cycle. Sometimes hours this applies will also be displayed.

If you can’t see any hours, then you should assume it applies permanently. Be warned: in many urban areas a camera will snap you if you use this lane when you shouldn’t.

Related cars