10 obscure driving laws you may not know existed
If you’ve taken your driving test, passed and have been on the road for a decent amount of time, you’ll be fully aware of the main laws of the road. We’re talking about the obvious of course; not speeding, not driving under the influence, not jumping red lights etc, etc.
However, if, like most of us, you endeavour to be an exemplary driver and avoid endorsable offences at all cost, you may want to gen up on a few of the lesser-known laws that can land you not only with points on your licence but also a substantial fine.
So, whether hiring a vehicle or driving your own, here are ten things you’ll want to know so you don’t get caught out.
Don’t be a slowcoach
According to the analysis of data by the RAC Foundation, nearly 2.4 million speeding offences were detected in England and Wales in the 2018-2019 period, so it will come as no surprise that speeding is one of the most common violations committed by UK motorists. What may amaze you though, is that you can also find yourself with three points on your licence and an on-the-spot fine of £100 for driving too slowly! Deemed as endangering other road users, taking your foot off the gas can land you in trouble as this misdemeanour is regarded as driving without due care and attention.
It doesn’t pay to be a good Samaritan
You may just be doing your fellow motorists a favour, but letting the oncoming traffic know that the local constabulary is sitting around the next bend could cost you dearly. Regarded as "wilfully obstructing a constable in the execution of his/her duty”, a flash of your headlights to warn other drivers of a mobile speed camera can leave you £1000 short as you’ll be in violation of section 89 of the Police Act 1996 which states you must only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there.
Turn the sounds down
If you fancy yourself as a bit of an Ed Sheeran whilst driving or like to have your own mini rave behind the wheel, then it’s time to think again. Whilst there is no actual law against playing music loudly in any vehicle if the powers that be think it poses a distraction risk, you’re in for a £100 fine and potentially three points on your licence. And if that’s not bad enough, if you refuse to turn those tunes down you could have your vehicle seized.
Watch out for the splish splash
You may be warm and dry in your vehicle but if it is raining buckets and the roads are filled with puddles then it is your responsibility to ensure those outside the car stay dry too. Driving through a puddle and splashing a pedestrian is a big no-no in the driving world and can cost you a £5,000 fine and with 3 points on your licence to boot. Falling under section 3 of the Road Traffic Act this act is classed as careless, aggressive or inconsiderate behaviour on the road and should make you think twice about splash and run incidents.
Time to switch off
We now live in a world that is so much more aware of the environment than ever before. And this brings us to our next lesser-known road traffic law. In a bid to prevent needless pollution you can now be subject to a £20 fine for leaving your engine running unnecessarily on a public road although this doesn’t apply whilst waiting in traffic. Although at the lower end of fixed penalty fees, you may want to think twice about leaving your engine running or it could be costly.
Don’t let the dogs out
Fido may enjoy nothing more than sticking his head out the window and feeling the wind in his floppy ears. But be warned, as enjoyable as your pet may find this, the significant fine and points you could be awarded for not having your pet suitably restrained in a vehicle may make it a lot less entertaining for you. If you’re found to be distracted when driving with a pet on board, then it is deemed as driving without due care and attention and comes with a £5000 fine and 9 points on your licence.
It’s a snow go situation
Although snow isn’t always the biggest weather problem on UK roads, it can still cause a lot of trouble for drivers when it does come. If you’re driving a vehicle after a snowfall, ensure that the roof of that vehicle is clear before you set off on your journey. Although there is technically no law stating it is illegal to drive with snow on the roof, you could get a £60 fine and 3 points on your licence as it could be considered ‘driving without due consideration' or 'using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition' if snow falls onto your windscreen or flies onto another vehicle.
McDonald's could cost you an arm and a leg
Whilst most people know it is illegal to use a mobile when behind the wheel of a vehicle when it comes to paying with your phone at a drive-thru this may just slip your mind. Technically, if you still have your engine running you could face up to a £1,000 fine and 6 points on your licence just for touching your mobile. So, if you don’t switch off your engine and apply the handbrake, that Happy Meal may not make you so happy.
Keep it clean
If you are a particularly proud vehicle owner and spend hours at the weekend waxing to a shine, then this offence won’t apply to you. But if this description doesn’t apply to you, then take note of the cleanliness of your ride. As the specific identifier of your car, the registration plate needs to be clearly visible at all times. That means if you have any dirt or grime obscuring any part of the plate you could be handed a £1,000 fine under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994.
Don’t go against the flow
Most of us don’t give much thought to the direction we park our cars on the road. However, rule 248 of the Highway Code states, “you MUST NOT park on a road at night facing against the direction of the traffic flow unless in a recognised parking space”. Vehicles parked against of the flow of the traffic pose a hazard as there is nothing to catch headlights. If you are caught parking like this after the sun goes down means you could find yourself with a fine of up to £1000 for a car or up to £2500 for vans or vehicles with more than eight seats.