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Drivers confused by multitude of dashboard lights

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Britain’s motorists have been dubbed a nation of ‘dashboard dunces’  after research revealed they are often confused by the warning lights in their cars, according to a recent report in the Daily Mail. 

The study, by breakdown firm Britannia Rescue, identified 99 separate dashboard light warnings in 15 of the UK’s most popular cars  including the Nissan hatchback and Mercedes-Benz E-class. They said the number of warnings on dashboards varied dramatically from one make to another and highlighted the Mercedes-Benz E Class for having 41 compared to 21 in a Nissan Micra, BMW 3 Series and Volvo S40.  Yet only 12 of the symbol designs were common across all models.

The survey found that a quarter of motorists have had one or more warning symbols light up while driving in the past 12 months. The most common are the engine, oil or battery lights.

However, most of the lights are said to confuse drivers as we do not know what they mean. The most confusing light is for a faulty catalytic converter which was incorrectly identified by 95% of drivers, and the next for confusion was the air conditioning light which 86% got wrong, followed by a tyre pressure warning at 71%.

Nearly half (48%) do not even recognise the brake warning light and more than a third (35%) cannot understand an airbag alert, with 27% mistaking it for a seat-belt warning.

Dashboard lights commonly inform drivers about problems like poor battery condition, low oil pressure and high engine temperature. Many cars now have lights for service interval indicators and seatbelt reminders along with malfunctions ranging from faulty anti-skid stability control to blocked air and fuel filters, defective diesel filters or fuel contaminated by water.

Within the same survey, it was found that most drivers continue to drive with a warning light on and it takes an average 12 days before they get the problem checked, However, 6% of drivers admitted to ignoring the warning light for more than a month.

Many car accidents can occur from ignoring a warning light. They are there to notify you when there is a fault with the car, which if left, can lead to a more devastating end.

By Tara Lever from the personal injury team