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Highway code mistakes that most drivers get wrong

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Seven in ten drivers get highway code questions wrong, a new survey has said, with many drivers never bothering to refresh their knowledge of the rules of the road.

The survey, which was conducted by Rooster Insurance and first reported by Chronicle Live, said 47 per cent of drivers have never looked at the highway code since first learning the rules, with those aged 45-54 the least likely to have done so.

Among the most common mistakes drivers make is the perception that speed limits are a target, Rooster said.

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More than half of respondents admitted to breaking the speed limit, but the limit shouldn’t be seen as a target you need to hit or exceed.

While there are circumstances where going too slowly can be dangerous, there are also times where hitting the speed limit may not be advisable, such as in harsh weather conditions or at night.

Another common mistake is tailgating, and thinking it is merely an annoyance. In actual fact it is dangerous, not only because it can put fellow drivers off, but also because it reduces the amount of time you have to react.

Despite the risks, the survey found 45 per cent of drivers admitted to tailgating. The highway code recommends you keep a two-second gap between you and the car in front – four seconds in wet weather. It recommends you safely overtake, rather than continue to tailgate. If someone else is tailgating you, it recommends you don’t speed up to compensate; instead, you should pull over and allow the tailgater to overtake.

Talking of overtaking, another common mistake is thinking undertaking is okay. It is not; it is dangerous, and the highway code forbids overtaking from the left side or by moving to a lane on your left.

Instead, only overtake from the right side by checking your mirror and blind spot, leaving enough space in front and behind you as you move out.

Hands-free phone systems are another source of confusion for drivers. While using these is legal – unlike using your hand-held mobile phone, which 24 per cent of drivers admit to doing – the highway code advises against doing so, as they can still be distracting.

It also says those who are regularly distracted by their phone should consider turning it off; if you need to make or answer an urgent call you should safely pull over to do so, it says.

The final source of confusion is tiredness behind the wheel. Over half of drivers admitted to driving while tired, even though doing so greatly increases the risk of collisions.

The highway code advises against undertaking long journeys between midnight and 6am. It also states that you should plan your journey to take sufficient breaks, recommending a minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving.

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