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Driving laws you could be breaking this summer

The summer is finally here, but don't get caught out on some of these driving laws that could affect you.

After a tough 15 months, everyone in the UK will be hoping to make the most of the sunshine this summer and head away for a well-deserved break.

With the traffic light system remaining in place for most destinations abroad, it's highly likely that we'll have to settle for a staycation this year.

That means you could be looking at a fair amount of travelling on the road to reach your destination which means you need to remain vigilant in following the Highway Code.

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As well as the normal rules and regulations you need to follow, with summer comes some slightly new legislations that are likely not in place all year round.

We've created a list of the top laws you need to look out for and stay on top of to avoid any penalty notices.

Not securing your pet when driving

Staying at home this summer means you have a lot more flexibility when it comes to your pets.

There's no denying your furry friends love a day at the beach or running through the forest and a UK trip means you could take them with you if you desired.

But it's very important that on your journey to and from your destination that you ensure your pets are restrained in the vehicle as it is an offence to allow them to roam around as they could cause the driver to be distracted.

The Highway Code states that:

“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly.”

Leaving your pet in a hot vehicle

It is seriously negligent to leave a pet in a car by themselves, particularly on a warm day.

The temperature in a car can reach intense levels, even on a cool day and your animal could die if left, due to dehydration or heat stroke.

You wouldn't sit in a stationary car in the heat for a long time, so why should an animal have to.

If you are passing a vehicle with a pet left inside, you should react to the situation and get help as quickly as possible, even if the dog doesn't seem distressed.

You can call the RSPCA or even the police if you can't find the owner.

Overloading your car

You could be slapped with a £300 fixed penalty notice and points on your license for packing your car beyond its capabilities. 

You shouldn't exceed your vehicle's weight limit which you can access in your car's manual.

Overloading your car can affect its handling and stopping distance due to the excessive weight on board and if you have piled it too high, you may be unable to see out of your back window.

It's highly likely you won't exceed your weight limit, but it is certainly worth keeping track of how heavy your belongings are, just in case. 

Disobeying caravan and trailer towing limits

If you have a caravan or trailer that you wish to take with you on your holiday, it's crucial that you read up on their laws before you travel. 

Ensure you secure it properly, including any sharp or dangerous objects, and when packing, distribute the luggage evenly.

You should only tow what your license permits; you will have a restriction on the weight of the trailer you can tow.

Factoring in these rules will ensure you have full control over your vehicle and you'll be less likely to swerve or impact other road users.

car-towing

Using your mobile while driving

This is a law not only during the summer but at all times of the year. 

But the reason we've included this in is that when travelling long distances, many people use their mobile phone as a sat nav to get them to their destination.

You should ensure that you set the destination before you begin your journey and do not become distracted by any messages or notifications that come through on your screen while using the system.

If you feel like you could become distracted by using the navigation on your phone, then it's worth investing in a proper sat nav that will not allow you to receive messages during the journey.

Antihistamines and medication

Prescription medication can affect your ability to drive, and some hay fever tablets can cause drowsiness.

We all know that it's illegal to drive under the influence of drugs and medicines are very much the same if they contain anything that could cause you to lose concentration.

Just be careful to read the instructions before taking any type of medication before driving.

Wearing incorrect footwear

Make sure you're wearing appropriate footwear when driving that will ensure you are fully in control of the pedals.

You don't want to wear anything that could cause your feet to slip such as a pair of flip-flops or high-heels. 

Wear trainers or comfortable shoes to give you the full control you need.

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Not knowing your vehicle's controls

If you've recently bought a new vehicle or hiring a car, you may be unfamiliar with all of the controls that come with it.

Check the indicators, lights, and windscreen wipers before setting off so you're not caught short if/when the weather conditions change.

It would be useful to practice with them all ahead of time.

Not keeping your car cool

After leaving your car out in the sun all day, you can expect to be met with boiling conditions when you return to it.

The Highway Code says you need to keep your vehicle well ventilated to avoid drowsiness.

When you get in, initially open your windows to get the air flowing through the car.

Once it starts to cool down, turn on the air conditioning and blast it throughout the vehicle, before putting your windows back up to preserve fuel consumption.

Driving on wet roads after summer rainfall

The sun could reflect on the water on the road and dazzle you, and if this happens then you should take extra care and even pull over if it's becoming too much of an issue.

Water can also sit on the road after rain, making it slippery, so it's worth allowing a little more time to get to your final destination.

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Aside from the above driving laws that you'll need to follow, enjoy your holiday and make the most of it; we all deserve it after this last year or so!

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