Study Shows Drivers Can’t Recall Traffic Sign Designs

Time: 2018-01-30

Study Shows Drivers Can’t Recall Traffic Sign Designs

HPI Ltd, a company that collects vehicle related data, recently conducted a study in the UK which asked participants to draw common traffic signs from memory in an effort to see how much drivers know.  The results of the test were disappointing to say the least.

When asked to draw the “End of Motorway” sign, which indicates the end of a limited access roadway, 85% of the participants drew the sign incorrectly. That sounds terrible but maybe that’s not as common of a sign as the study organizers thought. After all, remembering how something looks if you rarely see it is not an easy task.

What about something like the “Roundabout” sign? Traffic circles are common in Europe, so drivers should know what that sign looks like, right? Wrong. 90% of people drew the sign incorrectly, confusing it with the mini-roundabout sign. You read that correctly. There are two different “roundabout” signs in the UK; one that depicts a mini-roundabout, and one that serves as an advanced warning sign for a roundabout. Now that is confusing.



The “Give Way” sign, which is essentially the yield sign in the USA, was slightly more memorable. Only 70% of the people drew the sign incorrectly. At least some of them knew what the shape was, even if they drew it upside down.


The most troubling result came from asking participants to remember a stop sign. Only half of the people got it right. We can only hope that those who answered incorrectly still recognize it on the road.

Other signs such as “Uneven Surface” and “No Overtaking” were featured in the study as well. Participants performed just as poorly with those. We wonder how a study like this would turn out here in the USA. Based on the behavior we see on the roads here in New Jersey, we’d guess that participants would fare just as badly, if not worse. One thing was made clear by the results of this study; drivers need to brush up on their traffic signs ASAP.

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