It’s a sign of the times: younger drivers better understand road signs in emoji form over the traditional ones. This was revealed in a survey of 1,000 young drivers by insurer More Th>n, a subsidiary of RSA
More than six in ten (61%) of drivers aged 17-25 understood emoji road signs better, showing how embedded emojis are in the current lexicon of millennials.
The surveyed drivers had difficulty correctly identifying the standard road signs for zebra crossings, ring roads, no bicycles and steep hills—but had no problems understanding road signs that indicated emojis. In fact, 37% of young drivers would be open to having emoji signs on the UK’s roads and highways.
Young drivers’ misinterpretation of real-life road signs is a cause of concern. The sign for a ring road was mistaken by 27% of those surveyed as a sign for a ‘carbon neutral road’. Meanwhile, 25% though that the sign for ‘no vehicles carrying explosives’ was a warning of spontaneously combusting traffic.
According to Kenny Leitch, director of telematics for More Th>n: “Emojis have changed the way the younger generation converses, so it’s understandable they can comprehend these symbols with ease. However, emojis have no place on our roads. Thankfully, there is little prospect of official road signs ever becoming like emojis, but we still find ourselves in a situation where a significant number of young drivers do not understand the meaning of authentic road signs.”
The 63% of those who disagreed with using emoji road signs cited that they were too frivolous, confusing for older drivers, or would encourage use of mobile phones while driving.
The last reason is particularly problematic, as 32% of those surveyed admitted to using their phone behind the wheel, and one in 20 (5%) had an accident or nearly missed one due to being distracted by their gadget.