30% of UK Drivers Would Fail Driving Test

How well the UK public knows their car, under the bonnet

Survey Reveals 30% of UK Drivers Lack Safety Knowledge to Pass Driving Test

Running a car involves a lot more than simply driving around and filling it up with petrol from time to time. There are all sorts of safety and maintenance issues that can crop up, from windscreen washer levels falling dangerously low to problems with the engine.

While garages are on hand to sort out serious problems, drivers are expected to be able to take care of some of the simplest vehicle issues. So much so that the UK car driving test now includes ‘show me tell me’ questions about the car’s engine, safety issues and checking the vehicle.

With this in mind, at First Response Finance we decided to carry out a survey of over 1000 participants to see if their car safety knowledge was up to scratch. The findings were somewhat surprising.   

The Findings

Overall our study found that 3 in 10 UK drivers would struggle to pass the current driving test due to their inability to carry out basic maintenance checks under the bonnet.

This included 46% of participants admitting that they didn’t know how to check if the brake fluid reservoir level under their car’s bonnet was correct. Plus 40% of people struggled to check the engine coolant level. On the other hand, 76% could identify whether the engine oil level was right and 66% said they could check the windscreen washer reservoir level under their bonnet.

There were mixed responses as to what people would do if an engine warning light came on when driving. 58% of participants took the safe option of taking it to a garage, while an honest yet worrying 11% admitted that they would do nothing. Just 21% would have a go at fixing the problem themselves and a minuscule 1% said they’d ask their dad.

UK Knowledge Under the Bonnet

Survey Results Breakdown

What would you do if an engine warning light came on in your car?

We found 75% of participants from Northern Ireland would do the responsible thing and take it to the garage, while 25% of English respondents would investigate and try to fix themselves, and 25% of Welsh respondents would simply do nothing.

It was the older generation who were more willing to ignore it as well, with 17% of those who said they’d do nothing being over 65 and 10% between 55 and 64. While the younger generation appear keener to have a go themselves, with 18-24 year olds making up 25% of those who’d investigate, and another 30% being between the ages of 25 and 34.

UK Driver KnowledgeDo you know how to check if the engine oil level under the bonnet of your car is correct?

100% of respondents from Northern Ireland knew how, with 90% from Wales, 75% and 73% of Scottish and English respectively also up to speed. Those between 45-54 years old were the best with 91% of them claiming to know how, while 40% of over 65s admitted not being able to.

Do you know how to check the engine coolant level under the bonnet of your car to see if it is correct?

A huge 75% of respondents from Wales answered no to this question, yet 60% of those from England did know. It was the older generation more able to perform this check too, with 82% of those aged over 65 and 62% between 55 and 64 knowing how to check correctly. At the other end of the spectrum, 58% of participants between 35 to 44 years old didn’t know how to check properly.

Do you know how to check if the windscreen washer reservoir level under the bonnet of your car is correct?

Over 80% of those who polled from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland were able to check their windscreen washer levels (83, 82 and 80% respectively). English respondents let the side down, 34% of whom said they couldn’t check correctly.

Do you know how to check the brake fluid reservoir level under the bonnet of your car to see if it’s correct?

Seemingly a tougher task, only 61% of Scottish respondents said they could correctly check brake fluid levels, while just 51% of English participants were positive. 60% of 18 to 24 year olds admitted to not knowing how to do this, while a large majority of 90% of over 65s said they could.

The Response

Ben Garside, Marketing Manager, said:

“We’re quite surprised with these findings, we thought there would be a number of people who couldn’t name some of the components under a car bonnet, and an even higher number of people who do not know how to check and refill some of these, but we weren’t expecting the numbers to be as high as they are.

“Many of the UK drivers in our survey probably passed their driving test before the vehicle safety questions were introduced in 2003, so that could possibly be why the number is as high as it is.

“Arguably the most concerning aspect is that a tenth of drivers would simply ignore vehicle warning lights, which could potentially lead to serious accidents and also cause damage to their vehicles which in turn could lead to them incurring costly repairs to current customers.”

On the whole nearly a third of those surveyed lacked sufficient safety and maintenance knowledge to pass their driving test. Hopefully this survey provided a good insight into how well or as often the results showed, how little the public know about their cars.

Image courtesy of iStock.

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