Do you really know the Highway Code?

2nd Aug 2021

Do you really know the highway code?

If you’ve been driving for a while, chances are, it’s been some time since you last looked at the Highway Code. The longer we drive, the more we become accustomed to bad habits, learning the same routes we travel every day and recognising certain road signs.
But from time to time, it’s always advisable to test your knowledge. You never know when circumstances may change, for example:

  • You’re travelling to a new place, e.g. city drivers in the country
  • You have a new vehicle e.g. caravans instead of cars
  • The Highway Code has been updated e.g. new rules for remote control parking and motorway assist functions.

So, how well do you really know the Highway Code? We went in search of the most common wrong answers on the theory test, as well as any updates you should know about.

One-way streets

These came up more than once in a list of the eight most commonly mis-answered theory test questions. Think it’s never OK to undertake? Certainly, it’s bad manners, but there are exceptions:
• On a one-way street
• On a multi-lane highway in slow traffic when the traffic in the right lane is moving slower
• When the vehicle in front is turning right at a junction (and you’re going ahead/left).
Some of us even admitted to wanting to turn around or reverse when accidentally encountering a one-way street. The Highway Code states that you should press forward until you find a safe exit!

Putting the brakes on

Unsurprisingly, stopping distances got motorists hot under the collar, with most of us not knowing the stopping distance in good conditions at 70MPH. The answer is 96m, or 315 feet, but you should also know:
• 30MPH = 23 metres or 75 feet
• 40MPH = 36 metres or 118 feet
• 50MPH = 53 metres or 175 feet
• 60 MPH = 73 metres or 240 feet.
Another issue that came up, which thankfully is becoming less important due to more advanced cars, was brake wear. The question asks what the cause of brakes not working down a steep hill may be. The answer is glazing of discs due to over-heating, and we can prevent this by using lower gears.

Understanding the signals

Not sure what a flashing amber light on a pelican crossing means? You’re not alone. This means you should give way to any pedestrians already on the crossing. Likewise, yellow lines painted across the road may not be a common sight – but they’re there to encourage you to reduce your speed.

Every kind of driver

If you suddenly find yourself towing, you need to know what to do on a motorway. If all three lanes are open, you may only legally use the left and centre lanes.
Supervising a learner? Make sure you know the rules. You must not have a driving ban; you must have a full licence of three years or more, and you must be more than 21 years of age. Of course, the car must also be taxed and insured with appropriate L-plates.
What updates to the Highway Code should I know about?
The good news is that we seem pretty au fait on our road signs! However, whether you’re new to driving or have been on the road a while, you should know about these updates:
• A flashing red X in motorway lanes means you must no longer travel in this lane until a sign indicates that you may do so. (July 2019)
• You may use driver assistance systems after pulling off safely, but you must stick to the manufacturer’s instructions. (November 2018)
• You must ensure it is safe to use a hand-held parking assist device (November 2018)
• It is illegal to smoke in a vehicle in Scotland while moving if there are persons under the age of 18 present. (December 2016)
• School buses have been added to vulnerable user road signs. (February 2016)
• Updates to safe medication for driving – check with a pharmacist. (October 2015)
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