January 16th, 2020 at 11:28 am
If you have driven for many years or even just a few years, it is easy to get out of touch with updates to road traffic rules and regulations. Have a read of our refresher and see how many are new to you
Driving too slowly
If you have recently taken your driving test or know someone who has, you will be aware of the driving instructor’s constant mantra of driving up to the speed limit of the road providing conditions permit it is safe to do so.
Speeding tickets are the most common UK driving offence with in excess of two million issued annually but did you know that driving too slowly is also an offence? We all know how frustrating it is to be stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle which doesn’t have any reason to be moving at that speed other than driver choice. The frustration of other motorists can lead to overtaking when it is not safe and other dangerous manoeuvres. It won’t surprise you, therefore, to learn that driving too slowly in certain circumstances can land you an on the spot fine of £100 and three points on your driver’s licence.
A particular trouble spot is on motorways and dual carriageways where road lighting, road surface and camber are such that driving at the correct speed limit is usually perfectly safe in good weather. It is more understandable perhaps to drive with caution on country roads which are twisty, often have adverse camber and can be subject to slow-moving farm traffic and other odd obstructions. If, therefore, for effectively driving without due care and attention which is the offence which slow driving falls within, then you could land yourself a maximum fine of £5,000 and up to nine points on your licence.
Driving slowly is a bit of a red flag to a passing police officer; it could mean the driver is fiddling with their phone or unwell or involved in some other issue in the car which means they are not concentrating fully on the driving conditions
Most people are aware of some health conditions which have to be flagged with the DVLA and may affect their driving licence especially if it is something they have encountered with a family member or a friend. But the range of conditions that the DVLA require disclosure on is quite eye-watering. Don’t rely on your GP to prompt your phone call to the DVLA – they may not remember to raise it.
Some real flankers are recovering from a Caesarean Section which is, after all, major abdominal surgery although usually, the maternity hospital will remember to remind new mums of this. The ban is usually six weeks although you can drive earlier with the consent of your GP. Also on the list are eating disorders and even deja vu! Always check with the DVLA if you are unsure whether a medical condition or change to your physical state whether temporary or permanent needs to be notified. If you are involved in an accident and have a medical condition which you have not disclosed, then this could cause problems with your insurance cover and may result in prosecution by the police. There is lots of information available online to guide you but if you are not sure about any aspect of a health condition then it is always worth clarifying it with a phone call.
There seem to be far fewer incidences these days of cars driving around with a dog’s head hanging out of the window. That’s probably because the Police rely on Rule 57 of the Highway Code which states that dogs and other animals must be suitably restrained when in a vehicle so that they cannot move around freely and cause a distraction to the driver. This can land an offending motorist with a charge of driving without due care and attention resulting in a potential fine of £1,000 plus penalty points on the licence. An incident which ends up in court so perhaps an unrestrained animal interfering with the driver and actually causing a loss of concentration and an accident could result in a fine of up to £5,000 and nine penalty points.
Dogs can easily be restrained in either a hatchback boot or estate car with a dog guard, in a canine crate or on a seat with a harness and seatbelt combi. This is as much about driver safety as security for the animal. An unrestrained animal itself runs the risk of injury if the driver brakes sharply or has an accident.
It is also illegal to remove any animal from a vehicle on the hard shoulder of the motorway for any reason other than a direct emergency. The Motorways Traffic (England and Wales) Regulations 1982 states that as far as is reasonably practicable, animals should not be permitted to leave a vehicle whilst the vehicle is on the motorway. So if you are taking your dog on a long journey, you will need to exit the motorway at a service area to allow him to stretch his legs and answer the call of nature.
Using a mobile phone to pay at drive-throughs
In 2017, the UK government introduced strict new laws about holding a mobile phone whilst behind the wheel of a car. More reviews are imminent in the spring of 2020 as technology continues to speed away in its development and how motorists use it within the vehicle.
It is illegal to hold or use a hand-held mobile phone or sat nav whilst engaged in the act of driving. Hands-free devices – playlists, sat-nav – should all be set up before you start the engine. The law applies even if you are stationary in queuing traffic or waiting at traffic lights.
Using your mobile phone to pay at a drive-through, therefore, could contravene road traffic legislation as the car engine is usually still running. The law states that using a phone is only legal if the engine is off and the handbrake is engaged, not the usual state of affairs in the queue for McDonalds. The penalty was increased in 2017 and is now a fine of £200 and six penalty points on the driving licence.
If you passed your test a long time ago then it is probably worth using one of the motoring magazines or a good online forum to keep yourself up-to-date with changes in legislation particularly in areas of rapid advancement such as mobile phone technology.