With the open road unfurling ahead, the hum of the engine, and your favourite tunes accompanying you, driving can be an exhilarating experience. Yet, beneath this thrilling exterior lies a crucial responsibility. Every time you take to the wheel, you accept the duty of vigilance and adherence to the laws that ensure our roads remain safe spaces for all users.
The labyrinth of rules and regulations woven into the very fabric of our driving culture often seems daunting. While we are all aware of the cardinal rules—don’t speed, always wear a seatbelt, never drink and drive—there lies beneath the surface a plethora of lesser-known statutes that could, if overlooked, lead to hefty fines and penalty points on your driving licence. These are the often misunderstood or entirely unknown misdemeanours that, though they may seem inconsequential in isolation, contribute significantly to both individual and collective road safety.
Many drivers, often without realising, slip into habits or behaviours that, unbeknownst to them, could be crossing the line of legality. This obliviousness is not a sign of negligence or disregard for the rules but rather a testament to the intricate and complex landscape of driving laws that govern our roads.
Here we seek to cast a spotlight on these clandestine culprits, the top 12 often-overlooked driving offences, to help you navigate this driving minefield. It is our mission to equip you with the knowledge to drive safely, lawfully, and confidently, keeping your record blemish-free and contributing to the overall safety of UK roads.
Join us as we journey through this untrodden path, unmasking these driving missteps one by one. Because an informed driver is a safe driver, and together we can make our roads a safer place for all. Buckle up, and let’s delve into the hidden depths of the driving law manual.
Top 12 Less-Known Driving Issues That Could Get You Fined
1. The Unexpected Consequence of Barefoot Driving
While the freedom of driving barefoot might feel liberating, it could, ironically, lead to charges of restraint. If law enforcement deems that your bare-footedness hampers full control of the vehicle or if you’re implicated in an accident, you could be charged with ‘driving without due care and attention’, a hefty offence with serious ramifications.
2. Music Selection: A Symphony of Law and Order
The right song can transform a mundane drive into a joyous journey. However, be warned, new driving laws now make it illegal to even touch your phone while driving. This includes flipping through your music playlist. Offenders could face a £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence – a high price for the perfect tune, especially when you’re stationary or parked with the engine running.
3. Phone Handling: An Unforgivable Offence
The act of merely holding your phone while behind the wheel has severe legal repercussions. It could lead to a £200 fine and six penalty points on your licence. For the less experienced, those with less than two years on the road, the consequences could be even more severe—a total driving ban.
4. A New Era: The Hierarchy of Road Users
In a landmark move in 2022, the Highway Code introduced the ‘hierarchy of road users, redefining the norms of road usage and prioritising those most vulnerable. From pedestrians to cyclists, horse riders to motorcyclists, and finally, cars and taxis, this list informs the duty of care for each user. Neglecting this hierarchy could bring legal consequences and a blow to your safety record.
5. Protecting Cyclists: A Matter of Urgency
The new ‘hierarchy of road users’ has put cyclists’ safety in the spotlight. Drivers now bear greater responsibility towards their two-wheeled counterparts. Turning at a junction without taking into account the cyclist’s path could potentially lead to severe repercussions if it results in an accident.
6. Smartwatch: A Sneaky Distraction
In our age of continuous connectivity, even the innocuous act of glancing at a smartwatch while driving could land you in trouble. While not a crime per se, engaging with notifications or reading texts on a smartwatch while driving is deemed careless or distracted driving. This could lead to an immediate fine of £100 and three points on your licence.
7. Tailgating: A Dangerous Game
Tailgating, the act of driving too close to the vehicle in front, is a dangerous habit. This is considered a form of careless driving and could land you with a £100 penalty charge and three points on your licence.
8. Munching and Sipping Behind the Wheel
The act of eating or drinking while driving, though not illegal in itself, could still result in fines and penalty points. If the police believe that your mid-journey snack or drink has caused a distraction, leading to reduced control of your vehicle, it could be seen as careless driving.
9. Making a Splash: More Than Just Poor Etiquette
Driving through a puddle to splash a pedestrian isn’t just unsporting; it’s a legal offence. This act is regarded as driving “without reasonable consideration for other persons”. Offenders could face a fine of up to £5000 and up to nine penalty points on their licence.
10. The Importance of Crystal Clear Windscreens
Driving with a clean, clear windscreen isn’t just a recommendation, it’s a legal requirement. If your windscreen is dirty, thereby obstructing your view, you are in breach of Regulation 30 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.
11. No Room for Dirt on Numberplates
Your vehicle’s number plate is an identifier and must always be readable. If it’s obscured by dirt or muck, even after a fun off-road adventure, remember, you could face a fine of £1000.
12. The Fine Line Between Slow and Too Slow
On British roads, slower isn’t always safer. Some roads have minimum speed limits to maintain the flow of traffic. Driving slower than the limit, even on roads without a set minimum speed, could be deemed inconsiderate and hazardous. This could result in a fine of £100 and three penalty points on your licence.
In conclusion, adhering to driving regulations and respecting fellow road users is not just a matter of courtesy, it is essential for our collective safety. By understanding these often-overlooked rules, you can not only contribute to a safer road environment but also avoid the unpleasant surprises of fines and penalty points on your licence. After all, the journey is as important as the destination, and a safe journey is always the best one!
Gear up with The Bournemouth Observer’s Motoring Section.