Everyone has to learn the Highway Code and pass a theory test before gaining a full driving licence, but how many people still remember the do’s and don’ts of driving? Recent research has shown that around 50% of British motorists admit to breaking traffic laws, whilst many more admit they have not revisited the Highway Code since passing their driving test.
Obeying the code is not only the law, but it will help keep you safe when travelling on public roads. It’s advisable to drivers of all ages and experience to keep up-to-date with the Highway Code to be aware of any rule changes that could affect the way you drive.
So what are the most common traffic laws that people often forget about? Read this handy guide to refresh your knowledge of UK driving laws.
If there’s one thing that’s sure to frustrate almost any driver in the UK, it’s middle-lane hoggers. On motorways, lots of drivers decide to stay in the middle lane even with a clear road ahead of them to either side. Some do this out of comfort and to avoid constantly dipping in and out of lanes, but for others it’s sheer laziness. The Code states that the driver should always return to the left-hand lane as soon as it’s safe to do so, and laws introduced in 2013 mean police officers can hand out on-the-spot fines of £100 and three points for hogging the middle lane.
Tailgating is another offence that many people are guilty of, without realising the possible consequences if caught. Tailgating is driving too close behind another moving car on any kind of road. The general rule of thumb is to leave roughly the space of two cars between you and the car in front, though this can change depending on what speed you’re going, with the gap increasing the faster you go. Driving too close to the car in front will leave you susceptible to any sudden stops or changes in speed and, as it’s classed as careless driving, is punishable with a £100 fine.
Keeping your car clean and respectable is not only desirable, but it’s also required by law. Number plates can pick up a lot of dirt while driving, but you must keep them clean and visible. Failing to do so carries an on-the-spot fine of £100 and a maximum penalty of £1,000, and can even cause you to fail your MOT. It’s important to check your vehicle carefully before starting a journey in case there’s anything that could restrict your view while driving. After heavy snowfall, it’s important to clear all snow from all parts of the vehicle so that nothing can drop down onto the windscreen after a sudden brake, thus obstructing your view. It’s not illegal to drive with snow on the roof, but if it drops onto your windscreen you put yourself and others at risk.
By now everybody should know that using a mobile phone while driving is illegal and can result in a driving ban. What most people don’t realise, however, is that the ban extends far beyond just answering a call or sending a text while at the wheel. It includes using your phone for navigational purposes when it’s not secured at a 45-degree angle. If you have the phone loose or if you try and adjust the settings while driving, you’ll be penalised.
The Code states that drivers should only flash their lights to let others aware of their presence around sharp corners or narrow lanes, but a lot of drivers go against that by using it as a way to communicate with fellow drivers. It’s often used to signify that one driver is giving way to another, or thanking someone for doing something similar, but all drivers must be aware of potential scammers who ‘flash for cash’. This is a method of insurance fraud where criminals pretend to allow fellow drivers the right of way, but then crash into them after flashing them, before claiming insurance for being involved in a ‘crash’. Drivers should never assume a flash is an invitation to proceed.
Although it’s not illegal to smoke at the wheel of an empty car – you could still be pulled over if it’s distracting you – it’s now illegal to smoke in the car if you have a passenger under the age of 18 after changes to the law in 2015. However, if you drive a convertible, you are permitted to smoke no matter who is in the car with you.
Not many drivers know that it’s actually punishable by law to deliberately drive through a large puddle with the intention of splashing a pedestrian. Not only is it deeply unpleasant for the innocent person minding their own business to be wet through with dirty water, but it’s also very dangerous for the driver. Going through deep water reduces control of the car and risks aquaplaning – which greatly increases the chances of an accident. Doing this deliberately can cost motorists up to £5,000 in fines and add up to nine penalty points to their licence.
The only time when it’s okay to pass another car on the left-hand side is in traffic congestion where one lane is moving quicker than another. Otherwise, ‘undertaking’ should be avoided at all times and only the right-hand lane should be used to overtake where possible. While not strictly illegal, it can fall under ‘careless driving’, as drivers changing lanes are unlikely to see you come up on the left, and could result in penalty points and a fine as punishment.
It’s common practice to ignore mini-roundabouts if there’s no one else around. Sometimes it seems easier to avoid going all the way round and just cutting a corner, but it’s the law to adhere to the normal rules of using a roundabout, even on a quiet road. This means indicating properly, going the correct way around the circle on the road and giving way to the car on your right. If you fail to do so, you risk a Fixed Penalty Notice with a fine and/or penalty points.
It’s your responsibility as a safe and culpable driver to ensure that you’re adhering to UK driving laws at all times. At AMT Leasing, we’re committed to providing a quality service that’s tailored to you. If you’re looking for a new lease car, contact our dedicated team today on 0113 387 4241 to find your ideal match.