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How Well Do People Know The Highway Code?

11th April 2019

It’s important for everyone to take care when travelling on the roads. Whether you’re driving, riding, or cycling, you want to reach your destination safely. The Highway Code can help us all achieve this goal.

You’ll have been taught a lot of the Highway Code if you’ve ever learnt to drive, or if you’ve taken a cycling course. However, it’s easy for details to slip out of our minds as we get more comfortable. This is when mistakes can happen. It’s practical – and potentially lifesaving – to remind yourself about the code on a regular basis.

We created a Highway Code quiz to mark Road Safety Week – an annual event that highlights road safety issues and campaigns. It’s a way for you to test your knowledge and get an idea of how well you really know the Highway Code.

Although the majority of people who’ve taken the quiz so far have a good understanding of the code, there are still some areas we could all be more familiar with. Take the quiz to find out how you compare, and don’t forget to share it with others.

Once you’ve finished, let’s see what the results tell us.


Cycling at dusk



What could it mean if a cyclist looks back over their shoulder?

  • 20% said ‘A: They are watching the vehicle behind them.’
  • 60% said ‘B: They intend to pull out, turn right or change direction.’
  • 20% said ‘C: They are going to stop.’

The correct answer is B – they intend to pull out, turn right or change direction. If you’re cycling, it’s important to check what’s happening on the road all around you, and it’s crucial to look behind you before you indicate and change course. Sudden movements could be dangerous for both you and motorists near you.

If you’re driving, being able to understand this behaviour is useful. You can anticipate what cyclists will do next.


When is it acceptable to ride two abreast?

  • 10% said ‘A: Always.’
  • 42% said ‘B: As long as you’re not on a narrow road, a busy road, or a bend.’
  • 48% said ‘C: Cyclists shouldn’t ride side by side, even on quiet roads.’

The correct answer is B – as long as you’re not on a narrow road, a busy road, or a bend. Most of our respondents were split between this and the third option, which says cyclists shouldn’t ride side by side at all. This may indicate driving preferences. Many motorists feel nervous or frustrated driving behind cyclists and would prefer to overtake them if it’s safe to do so. The section that covers cyclists’ position on the road is advisory, which means it’s up to you to decide what’s appropriate if you’re cycling with someone else.




It’s illegal not to wear a helmet while cycling.

  • 45% said ‘A: True’
  • 55% said ‘B: False’

The correct answer is B – false. Nearly half of respondents thought it was compulsory to wear a helmet while riding a bike, but there’s no law that says you have to, although one study showed helmets are 85% effective at protecting cyclists from head injuries. The Highway Code recommends you wear ‘a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened’. According to Cycling UK, any helmet with a Snell Foundation B90 (or higher) sticker has a substantially stronger safety standard.


What lights must you have lit on your bike at night?

  • 60% said ‘A: A white front light and red rear light, plus a red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 01/10/85.’
  • 10% said ‘B: A red front light and a white rear light, plus a red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 01/10/85.’
  • 30% said ‘C: A white front light and a red rear light, plus a red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured before 01/10/85.’

The correct answer is A. It’s vital that other road users can see you at night or during poor weather conditions. Making sure your bike has the correct lights and is in good condition will be a significant help.




What should motorists do before emerging from a junction?

  • 30% said ‘A: Give all cyclists right of way.’
  • 20% said ‘B: Stop.’
  • 50% said ‘C: Check their mirrors and blind spots before they pull out to see if any cyclists are approaching on the inside of the traffic.’

The correct answer is C. Cyclists often approach faster than you think, so it’s important to check if there are any near you before you pull out.


What must cyclists do before leaving a cycle lane?

  • 15% said ‘A: Ring their bell.’
  • 55% said ‘B: Signal their intention to other road users.’
  • 30 said ‘C: Nothing.’

The correct answer is B. Joining the main flow of traffic from a cycle lane can be dangerous. By signalling your intentions in plenty of time, you make motorists aware of your presence and allow them to adjust their speed and leave room for you if they can.




What should you do when another road user flashes their headlights at you?

  • 10% said ‘A: Stop.’
  • 50% said ‘B: Wave at them or flash your headlights in return.’
  • 40% said ‘C: Nothing, you should only flash your headlights to let someone else know you’re there.’

The correct answer is C. It’s commonplace for road users to flash their headlights to let another driver they’re safe to proceed, or simply to say thank you. However, the Highway Code advises not to. Judge each situation differently and err on the side of caution.


When are you allowed to drive or ride over the pavement?

  • 30% said ‘A: To gain lawful access to property, or in case of an emergency.’
  • 10% said ‘B: To gain access to any property, or in case of an emergency.’
  • 60% said ‘C: You can cycle on pavements but can’t drive on them.’

The correct answer is A. You’re not allowed to drive or ride on the pavement in most cases, but it’s legal to do so if you need to access your property (or someone else’s, if you’re visiting them or carrying out a service).

The majority of respondents believed you can cycle on pavements, but this isn’t always the case. There are tracks and shared use paths where cycling is legal, but cycling on a footpath next to a road is an offence. However, the police are advised to use their discretion and judge each case individually.

Reminding yourself of the Highway Code can have a positive impact on your everyday journeys, making journeys safer for motorists and cyclists alike.

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