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17 Lesser-known driving laws you need to know

BY Ian Lamming

8th Mar 2023 Motoring

17 Lesser-known driving laws you need to know

Here we explore some of the lesser-known driving laws which could land drivers with fines and points on their licence

If the last time you read the Highway Code was to pass your driving test at 17 then it might be worth having another look to avoid falling foul of the law. There is so much more to sharing our roads than memorising signs and stopping distances and it’s much easier than you think to become an automotive law-breaker. 

With dashcams, CCTV and phone video, collecting the evidence is now a cinch and with the Highway Code easily accessible on line proving a transgression is a mere click or a swipe away. Everyday occurrences such as flashing, splashing and swearing can land the motorist in trouble—and ignorance of the law is no defence. 

Research by experts at insurance price comparison site www.Quotezone.co.uk, used car buying service www.ChooseMyCar.com, Comparethemarket  and www.SelectCarLeasing.co.uk reveals the most common offenders. 

Splashing pedestrians

Splashing pedestrians is the offence of careless and inconsiderate driving whether done with malicious intent or not, so expect at least a £100 fine and three points, rising to as high as £5,000. 

Flashing headlights at other cars   

The Highway Code states that you should only use your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Flashing your headlights in anger could be interpreted as "furious" driving which carries the potential of fines and penalty points.

"You should only use your headlights to let other road users know that you are there"

Attempting to warn other drivers of a speed camera or a police speed trap carries a maximum penalty of £1,000 for wilfully obstructing a police officer. 

Swearing 

Losing your cool while driving could land you in hot water, especially if it escalates. Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, aggression at the wheel is prohibited.

Road rage - driving laws

Road rage is pretty serious and can lead to hefty fines

It can be classified as conduct likely to cause a breach of peace or even threatening behaviour, leaving you facing fines of up to a £1,000 and three points on your licence. Road-rage incidents have also led to serious assaults, even murder. 

Driving too slowly 

We all expect to be fined for speeding but not for driving too slowly. Although there is no minimum speed limit on motorways, if you’re caught driving too slowly the police may consider you a danger to other road users. A common penalty is a £100 fine and three points.   

Driving with an unsecured pet

Possibly one of the most common offences is not securing your pet while in the car. Animals can easily distract the driver and actually get in the way.

In one instance a family crashed because their tortoise had crawled underneath the brake pedal preventing the driver from stopping. Although this offence usually attracts a fine and three points, this could increase to nine points for more serious offences or if they contribute to an accident. 

Pets and breakdowns

Most motorists are aware that if they break down on the motorway for safety they should vacate the vehicle immediately. But they might not know that they can’t take their pets with them.

"Pets cannot be on the hard shoulder in any circumstances and failure to comply can result in a fine"

Rule 56 of the Highway Code states that pets cannot be on the hard shoulder in any circumstances and failure to comply can result in a fine of up to £2,500. 

Car maintenance

It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy at all times and that includes the brake fluid. If it’s beyond you to check then take it to a garage because if it is low you are facing a £1,000 fine and three points.

The same goes for tyre inflation and tread depth. 

Tailgating 

Don’t be tempted to listen to social media influencers who are offering tips to boost your economy by slipstreaming other traffic to increase your miles per gallon. Tailgating is against the law because it poses a serious risk of accident and you’ll definitely get the blame if there’s a crash with points and fines for careless driving coming your way. 

Air quality 

Believe it or not the Highway Code 237 insists that drivers keep their cars "well ventilated" at all times so don’t have your heating too high, smoke or vape behind the wheel.

Smoking in the car - driving laws

Don't smoke behind the wheel!

Apparently, this is to do with drowsiness and you could face a fine of up to £5,000. 

Vision

Wearing the wrong glasses could have you seeing red. Rule 97 says the clothing you wear shouldn’t affect your ability to control the vehicle so if your sunglasses cause a blind spot, or are too darkly tinted, you could be looking at fines of up to £5,000 and nine points on your licence. 

Putting your foot in it 

Wearing flip flops, hiking boots and wellies, not to mention high heels, can see you walking straight to court. They are deemed unsuitable for keeping full control of the car, according to Rule 97 of the Highway Code.

Strangely there’s no fine for driving barefoot. 

Drug driving 

Care must be taken if you are taking prescription drugs many of which dull the senses and slow reaction times.

Medicines - driving laws

Check if you're allowed to drive with your prescription drugs

Many commonplace prescription drugs breach the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 4. This makes it an offence to drive or attempt to drive under the influence of certain drugs so always check before driving. 

Drink driving 

Technically camper van/motorhome owners could be breaking the law if they have a drink even if they have no intention of driving. The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that no one in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle should be under the influence of drugs and alcohol. 

Lights out

Few people realise that it’s illegal to park your car at the side of the road at night facing the wrong way. That’s because only the rear of the car has reflectors so Highway Code 248 could land you with a fine of up to £2,500. 

Takeaway tirade

Using your mobile phone whilst at the drive-thru takeaway could leave a nasty taste in your mouth. Strictly speaking your engine should be off even when you pay using the phone or you should be handsfree when ordering, otherwise you could receive a hefty fine and six penalty points.

Dating dilemmas 

Take care when driving with a loved one, you can even be fined for holding hands while on the move, according to rule 160 of the Highway Code. This also extends to gazing into the eyes of your date whilst driving. Don't leave the car engine running when dropping off and picking up your date, that could lead to an £80 fine.

"Take care when driving with a loved one, you can even be fined for holding hands while on the move"

Never take selfies when driving—that will leave you liable to a £1,000 fine. If you have been getting hot and steamy in the back seat make sure you thoroughly demist your windows before setting off or that could be a £1,000 penalty. 

Noise nuisance 

Road racers beware, there are new noise pollution regulations in force thanks to a Department for Transport trial of "noise cameras". It is illegal to modify the exhaust system to make a vehicle noisier after it has been "type approved" to meet environmental and safety standards.

Noise limits of over 74 decibels—that’s about as loud as a vacuum cleaner—will land you a fine of £50 with the vehicle being taken off the road.

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