| Thursday 16th August 2018 2:45pm
From speeding, to parking illegally, to drink driving, itís likely youíre up to speed with most of the driving offences that you should avoid at all costs. However, with so many driving offences detailed in the law, there may be some that you're simply not aware of. Here, we look at six driving violations that could land you in big trouble.
1. Using your mobile phone
In the UK, using a hand-held device while youíre behind the wheel is against the law. Even if youíre waiting in traffic or stopped at lights, using your phone while driving is a serious offence. Youíre four times more likely to be in a road accident if youíre distracted by your mobile, so for the safety of yourself and other road users, you should refrain from using your device when youíre driving.
If youíre found to be using your phone, you could be given six points on your licence and a £200 fine. You may even be requested to attend court and find that you need to pay a larger fine. In some cases, you may be given a driving ban.
If you get a text or call while youíre driving, you should wait until youíre safely parked before answering. Itís perfectly acceptable to use your device hands free, such as for navigation, but if it distracts you and impacts your ability to drive safely, you could still be prosecuted.
2. Flashing your lights to communicate with other motorists
If youíve ever flashed your headlights to communicate with another motorist, did you know that you could actually be committing an offence? Even if youíve done this out of kindness to let a vehicle go in front of you, rule 110 of the Highway Code stipulates that you should only flash your lights if you want to make other drivers aware of your presence.
The rule also states that you should not flash your lights to intimidate another motorist or to convey a message, such as alerting a driver to a speed camera up ahead. Also, if another road user flashes their lights, itís important that you donít automatically assume that theyíve given you permission to proceed.
If youíre found to be flashing your headlights for any reason other than letting other motorists know that youíre there, you could land yourself a warning or even a fine.
3. Throwing litter out of the window
Regardless of whether itís a banana peel, an empty drinks container or a cigarette butt, if you choose to throw rubbish out of your car window, you could be creating a big problem for yourself. As of April this year, the government introduced new steps to tackle littering, which includes on-the-spot fines for vehicle owners who are found to be discarding rubbish from their cars.
If it can be proven that you have thrown litter from your vehicle and youíre behind the wheel, local authorities can issue a default fine of £100, with the minimum fine being £65 and the maximum being £150. Even if the rubbish was thrown by a passenger, youíll still be liable for this offence. So, to avoid being stung, itís best to simply wait until you can dispose of your junk in a more responsible manner.
4. Leaving your car running unattended
It might not seem like a big deal, but leaving your car running unattended is a big no-no. According to rule 123 of the Highway Code, the act of walking away from your vehicle while the engine is still switched on is considered to be an offence.
This is also known as Ďidlingí, and there are some situations in which it canít be helped, such as when youíre queuing in traffic. However, idling when itís not necessary should be avoided. For example, if youíre waiting for your children outside of a school, you should pull up and turn your car off completely.
The truth is, idling increases the amount of exhaust fumes in the air, which is bad news for the environment. Some of these fumes contain harmful gasses and particulates which are linked to a number of health problems, such as asthma and lung disease.
If youíre found to be idling, local authorities have the power to request that you switch off your engine. If you refuse, you could be issued a £20 fixed penalty.
5. Smoking with children in the car
Aside from being extremely bad for your health, smoking while driving could get you in serious trouble - especially if there are children in the car. In fact, itís illegal to smoke in a vehicle if someone under the age of 18 is present.
In late 2015, the government changed the law in an attempt to protect children and young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke. The law applies to all drivers, including those who own a provisional driving licence, and it applies if the windows or sunroof are open, or if the air conditioning is on. This law even applies if youíre found to be smoking while sitting in the open doorway of a stationary vehicle.
This offence carries a fine of £50, not to mention the fact that it can be seriously damaging to the health of your kids, or any other children you may have as passengers. To eliminate any chance of you being caught out, you could use this as motivation to kick the habit for good.
Have you ever committed one of these offences - even if you didnít realise you were breaking the rules? When youíre behind the wheel, itís important that you drive safely and abide by the law. If not, you could find yourself in serious trouble.
6. Your tread depth being too low
You may not be in the habit of checking your tyres often. However, well maintained tyres are not only crucial for vehicle safety but also tyres with below the UK minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm can lead to a fine and points on your licence. It is important to check your tyres regularly for any obvious signs of wear and tear to endure that you are not breaking the law and to keep everyone safe on the roads.
Driving without an MOT
While annual MOTs for cars over 3 years old are crucial in ensuring safety on the road, they are also important from a legal perspective. Drivers caught driving without an MOT can face up to £2,500, and may also find their insurance is invalid.
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