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6 surprising driving laws you didn't know existed

Kwik Fit | Tuesday 24th September 2019 10:39am

Man on mobile phone behind wheel


Using your phone to pay at a drive-through restaurant

With over 300 separate laws listed in The Highway Code for road users to follow, drivers in the UK have a lot to remember. Some of these laws are obvious and easy to follow - think of speed limits and the compulsory use of seatbelts. However, for every law you knowingly follow, there is a plethora of driving regulations you have likely never heard of. In this post, we’re going to take a look at six driving laws you might not even know existed.

What you might not have considered, however, is that this law also applies when using restaurant drive-throughs. In theory, during this age of super-convenience, you have the option to not only pick up a meal without even having to exit the car, but also pay for it with just a touch of your mobile phone. In reality however, following the introduction of stricter laws - which state that any driver who touches their phone while their engine is running is breaking the law - using your phone to pay at a drive-through could see you face a £200 fine and six points on your licence.

Warning fellow drivers about speed cameras

Have you ever flashed your headlights to warn a fellow driver travelling in the opposite direction of a speed camera up ahead? Well, if you have, this action saw you break two UK motoring laws and could have landed you with a hefty fine if you were caught.

While it may seem like nothing more than courtesy to give your fellow drivers a heads up, flashing your lights to warn them to slow down, or even as a method of saying thank you to other motorists or to let other cars pull out into traffic, goes against The Highway Code as  improper and dangerous use of headlights. If you are caught flashing your headlights specifically to alert oncoming drivers of a speed trap on the opposite carriageway, you could be prosecuted with obstructing law enforcement in their efforts to tackle crime and slapped with a whopping £1,000 penalty.

Deliberately splashing pedestrians with puddles

It may well be a funny and well-established trope of comedy movies the world over, yet soaking a pedestrian by deliberately driving at speed through a large puddle at the side of the road is certainly not a pleasant experience for the pedestrian. But did you know that in the UK this act is actually illegal and punishable with a fine of up to £5,000?

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, driving at speed through standing water with the intention of splashing pedestrians constitutes driving ‘without reasonable consideration for other persons’. When you think about it, this does make sense. Driving through water at high speed reduces your control over a vehicle and can cause you to aquaplane, putting you, other road users and nearby pedestrians in danger. So, if you spot a large puddle at the side of the road, and there is no safe way of avoiding it, slow down as much as possible and pass through the water at a pace that won’t create such a splash.

4. Swearing and making obscene gestures to other drivers

It is an inevitability of regular motoring that every once in a while you’ll be driven to the very limits of your patience when faced with inconsiderate or seemingly inept drivers. After all, with all the stresses of modern life, road rage has become increasingly more common on UK roads. But did you know that swearing, aggressive behavior and rude gestures aimed at fellow motorists and pedestrians could land you in hot water?

Falling under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, if you are caught shouting expletives or making obscene hand gestures when behind the wheel, you could be charged with disorderly conduct in the form of a breach of the peace. Of course, if both hands are taken off the wheel while making rude gestures, drivers can also be prosecuted for not being in full control of a vehicle. This offence could bring a £1,000 fine and three points on your licence.

5. Unsecured pets in cars

The image of a windswept dog sticking their head out of a car window represents one of the most glorious sights you are likely to see out on the road. But, believe it or not, failing to properly secure a domestic animal while driving is actually illegal on UK roads.

According to Rule 57 of The Highway Code, any four-legged passengers in your car must be secured or suitably restrained when driving to avoid distraction or injury. Failure to comply with this law could see you prosecuted for careless driving and fined up to £5,000, as well as receiving up to nine points on your licence.

6. Drive with your stereo playing at an excessive volume

Listening to your car stereo is the perfect pastime when you are on a long drive or are simply stuck in traffic. However, if you allow your music or radio to boom out of your car speakers at an overly loud volume while driving, did you know you could be violating a number of motoring laws?

Under Rule 148 of The Highway Code, excessively loud music could be classified as a distraction. This is because it has the ability to cover other important sounds such as the sirens of emergency service vehicles. On top of this, unreasonably loud music could also break Regulation 97 of The Road Vehicles Regulations 1986, which states that your vehicle must not be used in a manner which could cause excessive and avoidable noise. If you are found to be breaking any of these rules, you can expect a fine of up to £100.

Finally, if you are caught playing excessively loud music when stationary and in a residential area, you could be charged with breaking anti-social behaviour laws. Motorists who ignore multiple warnings relating to this offence could have their cars seized.

UK driving laws may be complicated, and there is undoubtedly a lot to remember, but keeping up to date with any major law changes and ensuring you regularly test your knowledge on what is and is not legal when behind the wheel will make you a safer driver.

To test your reaction times when faced with unexpected distractions, why not have a go at our “Driven to Distraction” game?


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