A YouGov survey for Tesco Car Insurance questioned 1,660 drivers about 12 everyday signs and found they could not recognise a third of them.
Those who passed their test more than 30 years ago were less likely to recognise signs than those with the least experience, prompting fears of complacency among older drivers.
However, the introduction of the theory test nine years ago seems to have had little effect, with the majority of those who sat the test faring little better than average.
A worrying 33% of motorists thought the sign for ‘no motor vehicles’ meant the opposite and one in six (16%) thought the ‘pedestrians in the road’ sign meant no pedestrian access.
One in 10 thought the ‘national speed limit applies’ sign meant a speed limit of 70mph, although this only applies on dual carriageways. Only 20% could recognise a ‘T-junction’ notice.
Tesco Car Insurance head Allan Burns said: ‘All drivers have a responsibility to keep their driving skills and knowledge up to date. The police do not regard ignorance as a valid excuse.’