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Dashboard warning lights – How not knowing THESE essential symbols could lead to a crash


UK motorists are being urged to improve their knowledge of dashboard warning lights and symbols as it could drastically increase their safety on the roads.

New research has highlighted that drivers have a distinct lack of knowledge when it comes to certain warning lights and symbols.

The research conducted by Cap HPI revealed that British motorists lacking in both knowledge and urgency when it comes to common car warning lights.

Shockingly, the study found that almost two thirds (59 per cent) of motorists surveyed struggled to identify what common warning lights really mean.

What’s more, 96 per cent of drivers couldn’t recognise a common braking system issue light, and a further 95 per cent couldn’t identify the symbol associated with the diesel particulate filter light.

This lack of knowledge doesn’t even just extend to what the symbols are but what they represent when they are turned on.

Some drivers wrongly believed that a light turning on was a positive thing, commonly with an airbag light being mistaken for ‘airbag on’ instead of ‘airbag issue’.

On average, drivers also seem to have a distinct lack of urgency when it comes to addressing problems signified by these lights.

Based on common symbols for various issues, the number of Brits that could NOT explain what common warning lights meant were as follows:

1. Issue with breaking system: 96 per cent

2. Diesel particulate filter issue: 95 per cent

3. Coolant issue: 93 per cent

4. Tyre pressure issue: 64 per cent

5. Airbag issue: 59 per cent

6. Anti-lock braking system issue: 56 per cent

7. Engine warning light: 30 per cent

8. Oil warning light: 19 per cent

9. Battery charge warning: 15 per cent

dashboard warning light

Dashboard warning lights convey essential information about the car to the driver (Image: GETTY)

In comparison, the issue that drivers cited to have the most urgency for them were found to be:

1. Engine warning light (41 per cent)

2. Oil warning light (18 per cent)

3. Brake system light (17 per cent)

4. Tyre pressure light (Nine per cent)

5. Coolant light (Seven per cent)

6. Battery charge (Five per cent)

7. Airbag warning (Three per cent)

Dashboard warning lights symbols

These symbols should not be ignored by the driver (Image: GETTY)

It roughly takes drivers an average of eight days and three hours to resolve an issue with a warning light.

Men were quickest to address problems taking around a day sooner to address issues than women, and over 55s were the fastest age group to react (6.4 days) taking four days less than 18-24-year-olds who were slowest to deal with it (10.6 days).

Perhaps most concerning is that an estimated 77,760 drivers would neglect a warning altogether, which could have devastating consequences.

Fernando Garcia, Consumer Marketing Director at Hpi Check, commented: “With so many drivers on the road in 2018, it’s hard to believe the lack of knowledge amongst UK motorists.

“Warning lights should always be treated as a matter of urgency, and leaving it to sort out a week later could risk safety on the roads.

“What stood out to us the most, was the shocking 96 per cent who were unable to recognise an issue with the brake system from the common warning light symbol.

“It was also interesting to see the generational split amongst drivers, with millennials leaving issues until the last minute.

“From a financial point of view, whilst car repairs can be costly, it’s also important to remember that safety is paramount on the roads, and we would recommend that all drivers brush up on their dashboard knowledge where needed!”



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