saying hi during driving

Here’s how it’s illegal to say thank you to other drivers

31st Oct, 2022

You know what’s nice? That’s right – a rapid, hassle-free service when you scrap your car. And you know what else is nice? Just a bit of common courtesy, isn’t it? If you do something considerate for someone – even if it’s just stepping out of their way, or letting them step into yours – then it’s always lovely to have that acknowledged.

And for the most part, people do. Of course, it becomes quite a bit harder when everyone is manoeuvring two-tonne hunks of metal and controlled explosions about, but for the most part many drivers manage to say thank you to each other every day without incident.

The trouble is, if you’re one of them, you might well be doing something illegal. Here’s why!

Waving or a thumbs up

This is a breach of Rule 160 of the Highway Code, relating to having control of the vehicle. Put simply, a quick wave or a thumbs up could still be deemed as a breach of having control of the vehicle. If it’s witnessed by a particularly eagle-eyed law enforcement officer, it could result in a fine of up to £1000, discretionary disqualification or three penalty points.

Let’s be honest, that’s going to come as a surprise to millions of people, since it’s one of the go-to ways of expressing gratitude for millions of drivers up and down the country. The Code is pretty unflinching on that point though – it says that operators of a vehicle should “drive or ride with both hands on the wheel or handlebars where possible.”

Flashing your headlights

Take even a short trip out on the roads (especially in the gathering dark at this time of year) and you’re likely to see at least one person flash their headlights as a way of communicating some type of message to other road users. Often it’s to let other road users pass, or to communicate thanks in the event that the driver is permitted to instead. However, it’s another one that could end up in a fine of £1000 if caught.

Basically, it’s a breach of Rule 110 of the Highway Code, which is very careful to stipulate that drivers must “only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.”

And although it’s a rule that might seem a bit overzealous when you’re only trying to show a bit of courtesy to another driver, we can probably all get on board with the “intimidate” bit – especially if you’ve ever had someone shriek up to your bumper on a motorway, flashing frantically to get past like they’re driving an ambulance rather than an Audi A6.

Turning on your hazards

With their relatively low-key but visible flashing, hazard lights seem like a relatively safe bet to show other road users gratitude, right? Well, technically – yes, you knew it was coming – you could still potentially find yourself faced with £1000 for keeping those on too long, too.

The Highway Code is pretty strict on this point – Rule 116 says that you “MUST NOT use hazard warning lights while driving or being towed unless you are on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and you need to warn drivers behind you of a hazard or obstruction ahead. Only use them for long enough to ensure that your warning has been observed.”

So, with the Highway Code having kiboshed all that, the question remains – how do I say a cheery “thanks mate” to the other bloke then? Well, to be honest, it’s safer for us legally if we just leave that for you to answer. (Us, officer? Nope, we didn’t see anything.)

We’ll just stick to what we do best – helping you scrap your car quickly, easily, and with the bare minimum of fuss and hassle. All you need to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our homepage, and you’re good to go! Curious to see how much your car is worth?

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