man on phone

4 driving laws you may have already broken today

31st Jul, 2018

As drivers, we all know the major rules of the road. Seat belts are mandatory, speeding is discouraged, and red lights are non-negotiable. Many people don’t realise, though, that there are all sorts of little offences that can land you in big, big trouble. Some are frowned upon by other drivers anyway, whereas others can be all-too-easy accidents that can get you all-too-easy fines! Here are the ones you might want to know about most.

1. Never use your mobile… for anything!

Now, you might be thinking “come on, I knew that one already”. And sure, most people do indeed know that calling or texting at the wheel has been seriously illegal for the last 15 years. The law comes down hard on those who ignore it, and it’s regularly and updated to ensure there are no loopholes. However, what you might not have known is that you can be stung in other ways, too!

The mistake:

The law says that it’s illegal to be holding a phone or satnav while driving, because it might mean you’re not in full control of your vehicle. Whether or not that’s true is up to the police’s discretion, so even if you think the truth is obvious, it’s best not to tempt fate!

satnav

And yes, this still applies if you’re using your phone as a satnav. If you’re doing that, it needs to be in a fixed position in a bracket or holder to be deemed as safe. It even applies if you’re using your phone as a contactless way to pay at a drive-through. Technically, you’re still driving a vehicle in motion, so the law still applies. Only when you’re properly parked up are you safe to finally use it.

The punishment:

  • Six on-the-spot penalty points
  • £200 fine, which could potentially increase to £1000 if it goes to court

2. You can only beep your horn in specific circumstances

Again, we’re probably all more free and easy with sounding our horns than we probably should be. Whether it’s in anger after having been cut up, in farewell when driving away, or in greeting when you drive past a friendly face, occasionally the temptation to just press the button can be a little too strong.

The mistake:

There’s actually quite a lot of rules and regulation that surrounds the use of your horn. For starters, you’re only supposed to use it to make other road users aware of your presence. That means for example, if you think a vehicle merging onto your lane is about to collide with you. Or, if a pedestrian is about to cross the road with their head buried in their phone screen. Technically, your horn should only be used to warn people of danger in situations like these, and not to indicate your annoyance. And, of course, you shouldn’t sound it in a residential area between the hours of 11:30pm to 7am.

The punishment:

  • £30 fine, which could potentially increase to £1000 if it goes to court

3. No splashing!

Everyone is a pedestrian occasionally. And as pedestrians, everyone knows that horrible feeling of getting drenched in water by a careless passing car. Well, we might have something to make you walkers feel a little better: yes, that’s definitely illegal.

splashing pedestrians

The mistake:

Sometimes, these puddles can be hard to avoid for drivers. But most of the time they really aren’t! Even if you can’t avoid it, if you’re properly paying attention then you’ve often got more than enough time to slow down, minimising the amount of water you send everywhere. It’s classed under careless, aggressive or inconsiderate behaviour. Cyclists can also be prosecuted under the same law.

The punishment:

  • A minimum fine of £150 and three penalty points
  • A maximum fine of £5000 and nine penalty points

4. Always keep your plate clean

There are some lessons that just hold true throughout life. In this case, the same rule that your mum always had about dinnertime also applies to your life on the roads, too. Although this time, we’re talking about your number plate.

The mistake:

Having a dirty number plate could potentially obscure the identification of your car. The law says you’ve got to be clearly identifiable at all times when out on the roads. If you’re wondering why, it’s broadly for the same reasons we don’t like people to wear masks when we see them out shopping – it sort of begs the question of why they might want to stay anonymous. For that reason, if you want to stay on the right side of the law, it’s vital to keep your number plate clean. Sure, it’s not the most exciting task in the world, but definitely preferable to the alternatives!

The punishment:

  • A £50 on-the-spot fine, which can increase to £1000 if your case is taken to court

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