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UK driving laws: 10 rules you (probably) didn’t know existed

UK motorists can be caught doing the most stupid things, but nothing as bad as these unknown laws.

We all like to think of ourselves as being a good driver. Many of you will have zero points on your license, had few to no other tickets or fines, but yet there are many laws that do exist that a lot of people don’t know about.

It’s easy enough to forget the most common laws that exist, let alone the more obscure ones, and that’s why we have compiled a list of our top 10 random driving laws, so you can be extra cautious next time you take to the road.

10. Frosted windows and snow on the roof

Winter is well and truly upon us now and we’ve seen snowfall in many parts of the country over the past few weeks. 

Having to get up an extra 10 minutes to get the ice off of the car or brush that snow off of the roof is a pain, but it’s a pain that could save you having to fork out your hard-earned cash on a fine and three points on your license.

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Rule 229 of the Highway Code indicates that drivers must only start their journey if all mirrors have been cleaned and de-misted, all lights and number plates have been cleaned and are visible, and full visibility is clear out of all of the windows before proceeding. 

Snow on top of your car can be dangerous, even if just a light dusting. All it takes is for a sudden brake and the snow could topple onto your windscreen, potentially obstructing your view of the road, and consequently causing an accident.

You could be charged with driving without due consideration or using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition.

9. Splashing pedestrians

Walking in the pouring rain is bad enough but walking in the rain having been splashed by a car and made even wetter is terrible.

We’ve probably all seen classic TV clips of someone getting drenched by a passing car speeding through a puddle and finding it hilarious, but it’s not a laughing matter when it comes to the law and it could get you in a spot of bother.

You could be prosecuted under grounds of ‘driving without reasonable consideration for other persons’ under section three of the Road Traffic Act, 1988. If found guilty, that’s three points and a fine of £100. 

It’s a selfish and aggressive act, so please don’t do it or be tempted, especially during this time of year in the UK when it seems to be constantly miserable outside.

8. Pets that are unrestrained

Dogs are great, aren’t they? They’re lovable, loyal, and fun and most enjoy a trip in the car - typically because they know they’re being taken to the local beach or woodland for a long walk.

Many dogs also enjoy the freedom of being able to stick their head out of the window and watch the world go by as their ears flap precariously in the wind. 

But you could be fined and given penalty points if it is deemed that you are driving without due care and attention from being distracted by the animal.

Rule 57 of the Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so that they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly. 

Something to consider next time you take Buster the cockapoo to Bournemouth beach.

7. Middle-lane hogging

Everyone that drives on the motorway should know this rule, but it’s staggering how many people don’t seem to follow it.

Rule 264 of the Highway Code states: 'You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slow-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past'.

If you fail to follow this law, it would be deemed as careless driving and you could be fined and given three points on your license. 

6. Using your mobile phone to pay at a drive-through

Mobile phones can do everything nowadays. You can book a holiday, video call your friends overseas, and now pay for anything, by tapping your smartphone onto a contactless card reader.

If you are going to a drive-through to get your dinner, having the power to use your phone to pay may be easier for you than having to rummage through your wallet or purse for your card.

However, the Government’s strict 2017 laws on people using their phones behind the wheel meant you could have been liable for a £200 on-the-spot fine and six points.

This seemed pretty harsh, and recently new Government guidelines indicated they would be scrapping that rule. However, it's not sure if or when this rule has been removed, so be extra careful next time you pick up your cheeseburger and fries.

5. Driving too slowly

As you would expect, speeding is the most common driving offence in the UK with 2.4 million detected in 2018-19, a 37% rise in the numbers seen in 2011-12.

Of that 2.4m, 44% were sent on a speed awareness course, 34% received a fixed-penalty notice, 12% were later cancelled, and 10% resulted in court action.

However, it’s actually against the law to drive too slowly as well, particularly on busy roads such as motorways, dual-carriageways, and fast-moving B-roads.

It could be deemed that you are endangering other road users if you drive too slowly and could land you a £100 fine and three points.

4. Playing your music too loud

Whether you’re alone or with friends, there’s nothing like cruising along with your music blasting out from the speakers, especially if you’re off on a long road trip.

But this could be deemed a distraction and could set you back a £100 fine and three points if so.

The ruling is slightly different - and more severe - if you’re stationary and you could be hit with an abatement notice. This could then escalate if you refuse to turn your music down when asked, and may result in your car being seized.

3. Warning others about speed traps

Speed traps can be an unwanted nuisance for motorists as police try and catch out unbeknown speedsters, but they are there to keep people safe and deter them from doing so again, potentially saving accidents from occurring.

It’s not often drivers unite when sharing the road, but many have been known to warn others about oncoming speed traps by flashing their headlights to slow people down.

It is deemed as ‘wilfully obstructing a constable in the execution of his/her duty’, and you could be slapped with a £1000 fine.

The Highway Code states: ‘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’.

2. Swearing at other drivers

I’m sure, in fact, I’m certain almost everyone has broken this law. There’s nothing more frustrating than being behind the wheel and another motorist does something to grind your gears.

But unfortunately, you could be fined up to £1000 for swearing at other drivers under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. 

You’re not always going to get on with your fellow road users, especially if they drive like a tool, but try to keep your head and refrain from road rage to ensure you aren’t caught foul of the law.

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1. Making a profit when offering lifts

Your mate has gone to a party across town and you’ve agreed to pick them up when they message you, as long as they give you a fiver for the inconvenience of waiting up until 3am.

You may think you’re just being a good friend and taking a little profit off of them at the same time, but this could land you in hot water, potentially resulting in a fine of £2500, six points, and in extreme cases, the seizure of your vehicle.

This is due to taxi services being heavily regulated in the UK, especially since the introduction of Uber.

You may accept petrol money, though, if ever you needed an excuse to get your mate to pay up for the lift.

So that’s our top 10 driving laws you (probably) didn’t know existed. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about them and we're sure you will obey them the next time you go out for a spin…  

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