Confused motorists stranded by dashboard lights

Motorists are increasingly finding themselves confused and stranded by the roadside due to the complexity of the dashboards found in modern cars.

AA breakdown crews are attending an average of 17,000 call-outs a month from drivers baffled by unfamiliar warning lights. The AA found that high-tech computer systems fitted in new cars were posing serious problems for many motorists.

Call-outs usually spike in March and September, when new registration plates lead to an increase in the number of unfamiliar cars on the road.

A new smartphone app, launched by the AA to explain warning lights, shows that 66 symbols are displayed on Bentleys, whilst Audis display 38 potential warning lights.

Max Holdstock, the AA’s patrol of the year, advised The Times, ‘With some car dashboards resembling the Startship Enterprise, it’s no wonder that some drivers are left bewildered. It is often thought they are not familiar with a warning light; and if it’s a second-hand car, sometimes because the handbook is missing.’

Drivers are able to identify more traditional symbols, such as those to add fuel or top up washer fluid along with those to secure seatbelts or check the engine oil. However, it is new symbols, such as a circle surrounded by dashes to indicate brake pad wear, which causes the most confusion with motorists.

A recent survey carried out by Populas on behalf of the AA, found that from 21,200 members or 53 per cent, would consult their handbook if a red warning light came on whilst 26 per cent would call for assistance straight away.

He added, ‘As a rule, red warning lights indicate a potentially serious problem, so stop the car as soon as it’s safe, and amber or yellow mean it’s OK to proceed, but some action – servicing or repair – is required.’