10 Motoring laws people forget or ignore
Is it legal to send a text when you’re stuck in traffic? Will you get in trouble for driving with snow on your car roof? The team from Servicesure Autocentres takes look at those laws we all should know about but tend to have forgotten over the years.
1. Fog lights
You should only use your car’s rear fog lights when visibility is “seriously reduced”. This is usually taken to mean when visibility is less than 100 metres, not a sprinkling of light mist when you first left home.
2. Stop junctions
A ‘stop’ junction is an instruction to do just that: stop. If you don’t come to a complete halt, even if the road is clear, you are breaking the law and could be given three penalty points on your licence.
3. Snow on your roof
While driving with snow on your roof isn’t a specific offence; if it slips over the windscreen or slides off your car into the path of another, it could leave the driver open to a charge of ‘driving without due consideration’ or ‘using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition’.
4. Splashing pedestrians with puddles
Deliberately driving through a puddle to splash a pedestrian isn’t just cruel and pointless, it could lead to a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) for a public order offence or even a summons to appear in court.
5. Box junctions
You must only enter a boxed junction if your exit is clear. If it isn’t, then you are committing an offence. You are also breaking the law if part of your vehicle is inside the yellow box junction and your vehicle is stationary. Nor is it a defence to enter a boxed junction where the exit isn’t clear to let an emergency services vehicle past you.
6. Using a mobile phone
A survey by the RAC found 61% of drivers think it’s legal to send a text message on their mobile phone while their car is stationary and the engine is running, in a traffic jam, for example.
However, to remain within the law you must be safely parked, which is generally taken to mean that you should be parked in a genuine parking space, such as a layby, street-side parking space, or car park. A queue of traffic doesn’t meet the criteria, even if everyone is stationary.
7. No road tax
Since the abolition of the paper tax disc, many motorists are confused about the law as it stands when it comes to buying and selling a car. The seller must now ‘cash in’ the tax on the car, and the buyer must buy new car tax before he or she can drive the car on the public highway. It’s a simple matter to do it online but it does mean that it must be done before you drive your new car away.
8. Out-of-date driving licence
A lot of drivers don’t realise their photo card driving licence is only valid for 10 years and failing to update it could lead to a fine of up to £1,000. You can check the expiry date on yours by looking on the front in section 4b, although you should receive a reminder in the post.
Renewing it is easy, and can be done online, although it does cost £14.00.
9. Driving in the outside lane of the motorway
It is an offence to drive in the outside lane of a motorway when you are towing a trailer or caravan. The only exceptions are when you are overtaking an exceptionally wide vehicle, or if you are only doing so in an emergency situation.
10. Leaving the engine running
If you leave your car’s engine running while you defrost your car in the street while you sip a hot coffee from the warmth of your kitchen on a cold morning, you are breaking the law.
You must be ‘in charge’ of your vehicle at all times when the engine is running; if you aren’t then you are risking a fine. If you leave your car, then the engine must be turned off and the handbrake must be on.