Is the UK a nation of horn hogs tooting from the same hymn sheet – or are motorists a motley crew of confused communicators risking collisions with misleading signals, asks the RAC Foundation, launching a new survey today (25).
With millions of vehicles out on the road this May Bank Holiday weekend, communication between road users has never been so important . A toot of the horn or a raised hand can avert road rage – or provoke it. Motorists may not even be speaking the same language behind the wheel: in the USA, 35 per cent of drivers (Autoadvantage Road Rage Survey 2007) use the horn in reaction to bad driving, while just 8 per cent use obscene gestures to make their feelings known, while previous surveys have shown that the rude hand signal is the UK motorists’ first choice (EOS Gallup Survey).
The RAC Foundation survey “Behind the wheel – communicating with other road users” asks motorists and other road users about the ways in which they communicate with each other – and their reaction when they are on the receiving end.
Elizabeth Dainton, Research Development Manager at the RAC Foundation said:
“Toots, hoots and waves are all part of the unofficial language of the motorist – but can be easily misinterpreted with potentially disastrous results. We hope that this survey will give us a better understanding of how the nation communicates whilst out on the road.”
RAC Foundation Communication Fact File
- In 2005 a Taunton lorry driver who waved to motorists to warn them of a speed trap ahead was prosecuted for obstructing the police, though he was cleared on appeal as there was no proof that any driver had seen his signal.
- In France, a driver flashing his headlights at a junction doesn’t mean “After you, Claude” but “Out of the way – I am coming through.”
- 2CV owners wave at each other when they pass. Smart owners do the same.
- In the USA, Harley-Davidson riders have an elaborate vocabulary of signs and signals. A biker stopped by the side of the road with their helmet on the ground needs assistance, while a biker with a safety-pin on his leathers is signalling that he is “passing through” rival territory rather than looking for a fight.
The survey can be viewed and completed at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=216593916388.