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BMW drivers are the UK’s worst, Vanarama study reveals

When it comes to motorists, we all have our stereotypes around certain marques and how they’re driven. Some manufacturers are associated with speeding, whereas others are seen as overly cautious. There are also assumptions made on our profession. Are we perceived accurately by the car we drive and the job we work?

Vanarama surveyed 1,001 motorists on The Highway Code to find out which drivers are most up to speed and which are lagging on their driving theory, by job sector and car brand.

Citroën drivers are the best in the UK

Citroën drivers are probably among the least controversial and aren’t exactly notorious for causing other drivers to feel outrage and despair – which could explain why they came out on top in our survey. A brand associated with practicality and comfort, Citroën is a well-deserved winner with 40.5% of correct answers. They were closely followed by Mercedes-Benz on 40%, Honda on 38.8%, and Ford on 35.5%.

highway code knowledge

BMW drivers were found to be the worst, with less than a third of their answers being correct (28.8%). What’s more, four in every five Beemer owners admitted to illegally undertaking other vehicles – only 22% are aware of the only permitted instance, on a one-way street.

Luxury manufacturers like BMW, Audi and Merc usually come with negative connotations on their drivers’ road etiquette. In our study, however, the former scored much lower than the other two – BMWs can get a bad rep, and it seems from our data, they have the least Highway Code knowledge.

It’s also surprising to see Nissan and Renault so low on percentage of correct answers as these brands usually have inoffensive stereotypes – akin to Citroën, another practical brand that rarely has us rolling our eyes. It would appear that drivers of these cars perhaps don’t know The Highway Code as well as we would assume.

While Renault responses returned the lowest knowledge on stopping distances, with little over one in ten knowing the typical distance from 50mph to a stop, only 27% of Nissan drivers are familiar with motorway signs.

Emergency services drivers ranked second worst with 28.2%

Participants were also surveyed on their profession to gauge work-related stereotypes. Most surprising is the emergency services sitting second from bottom with correct answers accounting for only 28.2% of the results. Including paramedics, police, the fire service and even organ transfer and blood services, driving an emergency services vehicle comes with greater risk – a risk you’d hope to see countered in the survey results.

Vanarama - UK-s Safest Drivers SM3

Even office working ¬– perhaps the most irrelevant occupation to driving, especially after a year and a half of homeworking – performs better than the emergency services with 32.8%. Office workers are also more adept at identifying guide dogs at the roadside, registering the second-highest score when quizzed on pedestrians with dogs wearing yellow or burgundy coats.

Overall, the job sector boasting the highest proportion of correct answers, and therefore the most capable at the wheel, is the trades with 35%. It may or may not come as a surprise that tradespeople scored higher than transport drivers, as both spend relatively more time on the road than those in public services, offices and hospitality. According to our survey, the latter of those is the least capable sector on only 27.8%.

Questions asked in the survey

  1. Unbalanced wheels on a car may cause… (The steering to vibrate)
  2. When travelling at 50mph on a dry road, what is the typical overall stopping distance? (53 metres/175 feet)
  3. While driving, you spot a pedestrian with a dog wearing a yellow or burgundy coat. This especially warns you that the pedestrian is… (Deaf)
  4. In which situation may you overtake another vehicle on the left? (On a one-way street)
  5. There are red flashing lights above every lane on the motorway. What must you do? (Stop and wait)

Vanarama surveyed 1,001 UK residents on profession, car driven and UK driving theory. Correct answers were scored as a percentage of overall responses and used to rank drivers by both job sector and car manufacturer.

Browse the Vanarama blog for more in the way of motoring insight, news and reviews, or visit our latest offers hub if you’re in the market for a new car.

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