UK mobile phone driving laws explained by the RAC
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Driving is a learnt skill which rarely changes once you’ve passed your test, but the laws that regulate the use of road vehicles are quite the opposite. With laws and guidelines changing on a regular basis, you need to know more than just the Highway Code to stay in line with the law when driving. The new blanket ban on the use of phones while driving is due to force drivers across the UK to break bad habits, but what are the other driving rules you should know?
Driving illegally in the UK is often associated with unlicensed drivers and uninsured vehicles, but there are a whole host of quirky rules that could catch you out.
From wild pets to road rage gestures, there are plenty of everyday habits which could unknowingly land you with a hefty fine or in a legal battle – and these are the top 10.
Letting your dog hang out the window
Winding down your car window will certainly cool down your pet on a warm journey, but letting your canine companion hang out of the window is a breach of the Highway Code.
Rule 57 of the Highway Code states your dog should be “suitably restrained” when travelling to avoid distraction or injury when driving.
We’re all guilty of getting frustrated at the wheel but rude gestures or swearing at other drivers is seen as more than a little road rage in the eyes of the law.
Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, rude hand gestures and ‘yelling expletives’ is classified as disorderly conduct.
Super slow driving
Speeding is a known offence when it comes to driving but driving well below the speed limit can be just as dangerous.
Drivers caught driving too cautiously for no good reason could be caught out by the Road Traffic Act 1988 under the driving offences’ section.
Reducing your speed in harsh weather conditions or in traffic is encouraged but you should avoid crawling along the road without a legitimate reason.
Using your phone to finance a drive-thru order
The blanket ban on drivers using their mobile phones while behind the wheel applies to drive-thru transactions too.
Several laws introduced in 2017 prohibit drivers from holding and using a phone when in charge of a motor vehicle, as detailed in the Road Vehicles Regulations Act, 2003 and the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Driving with your music blasting
Excessively loud music in your car is seen as a distraction under Rule 148 of the Highway Code, and could also bag you a noise complaint under regulation 97 of the Road Vehicles Regulations.
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Sleeping drunk in your car
Drink driving is a serious offence in the UK, but it turns out sleeping off the alcohol in the comfort of your car is also against the law.
According to section five of the Road Traffic Act 1998, it is illegal to drive or be in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit.
Sleeping in your car is viewed as being ‘in charge’ by the law and could leave you in a spot of bother with the police.
Dirty registration plates
The DVLA has taken a harsh stance with unreadable registration plates.
Your licence plate will break the Road Vehicles Regulations, 2001 if it is dirty to the point that it can’t be identified.
Advertising on your car
This rather outdated law is still applicable and it prohibits adverts from being displayed on any vehicle under section nine of the Metropolitan Streets Act 1867.
Begging drivers for parking fees
Asking strangers for change when you’ve parked but realise you’re out of pocket is seen as begging.
You could risk being charged under the Vagrancy Act, 1824 which makes begging for change illegal in the UK.
Purposefully splashing pedestrians on a rainy day is illegal under the Road Traffic Act 1988.
This careless act which can be entertaining to drivers is deemed as “inconsiderate and careless driving” in the eyes of the law when done on a road or in a public place and will land you a few points on your license.
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