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Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Posted
5 JUNE 2023
7 min read
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Driving Test Quiz: Could you pass a driving theory test today?

If you were to retake your driving theory test again today, do you think you’d pass it? According to our research, only just over half (55%) of drivers in the UK think they could ace their theory test in 2023.

We’ve carried out research to see just how many drivers could correctly answers common theory test questions. We found that an average of just over half (51%) of the questions were answered correctly, which is concerning considering you need to answer  86%  questions correctly to pass a full driving theory test. Less than 1% of people got every single question correct.

Interestingly, the more time that has passed since taking your initial theory test, the more likely you are to answer the theory questions correctly, with drivers that took their test more than 30 years ago, giving the highest number of correct answers (62%) of the questions correctly.

Despite undertaking the test more recently, motorists who passed their theory test between 1 and 3 years ago actually answered the least number of questions correctly, with an average of just 39%.

Could you correctly answer these driving theory questions?

When looking at the multiple-choice questions excluding road signs, on average, only 45% of motorists were able to correctly answer, though this did increase with age, with 50% of drivers aged over 55 getting these questions correct, compared to just 36% of 16- to 24-year-olds giving correct answers.

1. What should you do if your vehicle catches fire while you’re driving through a tunnel?

  • Answer: Drive it out of the tunnel if it is safe to do so.

Almost one-third (32%) of drivers got this question right. The majority of people (41%) suggested pulling up and then walking to an emergency telephone, but the greatest danger in a tunnel fire is smoke and suffocation, so if it’s possible, and you can do so without causing further danger, it may be safer to drive a vehicle that is on fire out of a tunnel.

2. How can you avoid wheelspin when you’re driving on an icy road?

  • Answer: Drive at a slow speed in the highest gear possible

A huge 66% of drivers failed this question, with most people (36%) answering that you should drive in a low gear at all times. If you do find yourself travelling on an icy road, extra caution will be required to avoid loss of control. Keeping your speed down and using the highest gear possible will reduce the risk of the tyres losing their grip on the slippery surface.

3. You’re waiting to emerge at a junction. Your view is restricted by parked vehicles. What can help you to see traffic on the road you’re joining?

  • Answer: Reflections of traffic in windows

36% of motorists answered this question correctly, while 30% suggested checking for traffic in your interior window. Of course, it goes without saying you should always use your windows to ensure you’re aware of the road. In this instance though, looking for traffic through the windows of the parked cars or in the reflections of windows can help. Make sure you keep looking in all directions as you slowly edge forwards until you can see it’s safe.

4. What’s the speed limit for a car towing a caravan on a dual carriageway?

  • Answer: 60 miles per hour

Due to the increased weight and size combination, the speed limit for cars towing caravans or trailers on dual carriageways is 60 mph. 36% of motorists got this question correct, although slightly more people (38%) thought the correct answer was 50mph. Those towing a caravan on a single carriageway would need to stick to a 50 mph speed limit though, which is perhaps where the confusion comes from.

Drivers also need to ensure they take particular care in windy weather, as a strong side wind can make a caravan or large trailer unstable.

5. When may you drive without wearing your seatbelt?

  • Answer: When you’re carrying out a manoeuvre that includes reversing

Industry rules state that you may remove your seatbelt while you’re carrying out a manoeuvre that includes reversing. However, you must put the seat belt back on again before you resume driving. 41% of drivers got this question correct.

6. When should you leave a two-second gap between your vehicle and the one in front?

  • Answer: When it’s dry

In good, dry conditions a driver needs to keep a distance of at least two seconds from the car in front, to ensure they can pull up safely if the car in front slows down or stops. 43% of drivers answered this correctly in our survey, though 25% of people thought this was the correct distance when it is raining. The gap between cars should actually double on wet roads, and increase even further when roads are icy.

7. What’s the legal minimum insurance cover you must have to drive on public roads?

  • Answer: Third-party only

Most drivers did in fact get this question correct, with over half of drivers (52%) stating you must have third-party insurance. This is the minimum insurance required by law, and covers your liability to others if you’re involved in a collision, but doesn’t cover damage to your own vehicle. Basic third-party insurance also won’t cover theft or fire damage. There are lots of different types of car insurance out there, and it’s important to ensure you’ve got the best car insurance for you, so you have full peace of mind that you are completely covered while on the road.

8. What’s the purpose of a catalytic converter?

  • Answer: To reduce harmful exhaust gases

Almost two-thirds (62%) of people got this question correct. Catalytic converters reduce a large percentage of harmful exhaust emissions and are most efficient when the engine has reached its normal working temperature.

9. You’re about to overtake a cyclist. Why should you give them as much room as you would give a car?

  • Answer: The cyclist might be unsettled if you pass too near them

It’s really important to be aware of cyclists and their safety on the roads, and it’s good to see that at least 64% of drivers are aware that driving too close to cyclists could unsettle them. Before overtaking a cyclist, make sure you assess the situation. Look well ahead to see whether they will need to change direction, and be especially aware if the cyclist is approaching parked vehicles, as they’ll need to alter course. Always give cyclists a wide berth, and avoid cutting in too sharply as this may startle them.

10. What should you do if you’re driving on a motorway and you miss the exit that you wanted to take?

  • Answer: Carry on to the next exit

This question had the most success pass rate, with 81% of motorists answering correctly. While your instincts may want you to turn around, it’s illegal to reverse, cross the central reservation, or drive against the flow of traffic on a motorway. If you miss your exit, carry on until you reach the next one. If you think you missed your exit because your concentration is fading, take a break before continuing your journey.

How well do motorists know UK road signs?

Alongside the driving theory questions, we also asked drivers if they could correctly identify some of the most common road signs. On average, only 47% of these signs were matched correctly to their meaning.

As with the driving theory questions, age and length of driving experience does seem to have a significant impact on the ability to answer these road sign questions correctly. Those aged between 16 and 24 only managed to correctly identify 34% of the road signs, whereas this increased to 56% for those aged over 55. Similarly, those that passed their theory test more than 30 years ago correctly answered around 58% of the road sign questions, compared with those who passed their theory between just 1 to 3 years ago only able to correctly identify 33% of the road signs. 

Below are some of the most unknown road signs, and what they actually mean. Can you guess them all correctly?

Answer: Emergency diversion route for motorway and other main road traffic

A huge 83% of people identified this sign incorrectly, with the majority assuming they either hadn’t been provided with the right answer (49%) or that it was a sign for a ring road (15%).

 

Answer: Risk of grounding

Only 28% of people managed to correctly guess this sign, with the majority of drivers (55%) thinking it was used to signal an uneven road.

Answer: No waiting

Just 33% of drivers were able to successfully match this sign with its meaning, with the same number of people also assuming it actually meant no stopping.

 

Answer: Ring road

Of the drivers we surveyed, 61% identified this sign incorrectly. Among several options, some drivers thought it meant risk of grounding (11%) while others thought it was a sign for an emergency diversion route for the motorway (6%).

Answer: Tourist attraction

Only 41% of people were able to correctly identify the sign for tourist attractions. Given the image, it’s perhaps not surprising that most people (51%) suggested this was a sign for a train station.

 

Hazard perception test

The hazard perception test is another key element of the theory test, where you’re shown 14 different video clips featuring everyday road scenes that contain at least one ‘developing hazard’. You then get points for spotting the hazard as soon as they start to happen.

A developing hazard is defined by something that would cause you to take action while driving, such as changing speed or direction. 

Can you spot the developing hazards in the below?

Which cities have the most knowledgeable drivers?

Our research also shows that the number of questions that drivers were able to answer correctly differed depending on where they were from. Drivers from Plymouth came out on top, having answered 57% of the driving test questions correctly. Closely following were motorists from Nottingham (56%) and Newcastle (55%).

Drivers from Belfast were the least successful in our survey, only answering 48% of the questions accurately. Both Birmingham and London weren’t too far behind, with only 49% of their answers correct.

Why is it important to have driving theory knowledge?

Having driving theory knowledge is just important as having practical experience, as it allows drivers to demonstrate safe and legal driving behaviours.

It’s not uncommon for motorists to forget common driving rules over time, or to be unaware of new rules that have may have come into force since passing their theory test. It’s important for all drivers to refresh and update their essential driving knowledge to keep themselves and other road users safe.

Hazard Perception Answers

Hazards 1 - answers

Hazards 2 - answers

Hazards 3 - answers

Methodology & Sources

All data came from a survey of 2,014 UK drivers (aged 17+). The survey was conducted between 06.02.2023 and 09.02.2023.

Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie