It might be time to get out the sponge and the bucket and clean your car. Because driving with a dirty windscreen or number plate could land you in trouble – and a £1,000 fine.
There are certain rules – such as speeding and drink-driving – that motorists know not to obey. But even the most experienced driver may not realize how many other things are illegal to do while driving.
These include having a dirty license plate, smoking while driving, and even selecting a song from your playlist. Motoring offenses and laws in the UK can and do change, reports Wales Online.
Read more: The Highway Traffic Act rule about letting your dog hang its head out of the car window could net you a £5,000 fine
In 2022, a new set of laws and regulations were announced, potentially leaving some drivers in hot water if they haven’t familiarized themselves. Here’s a list of some of the latest regulations — and some lesser-known offenses, according to Newton’s lawyers .
Use your phone as a SatNav in a non-fixed position
Many of us rely on our phone’s SatNav to direct us when driving to places we don’t know. To do this safely, and legally, your phone must be in a fixed position on your dashboard or windshield. This should allow you to see SatNav directions clearly while driving, without needing to hold your phone.
The “cradle” your phone sits in shouldn’t prevent you from seeing clearly through your windshield. If you are caught holding your phone while driving you could be fined £200 and six points on your licence.
If you’ve had your license for less than two years, you could receive a driving ban.
Selecting a new song from your music playlist
New driving laws prohibit touching your phone while driving, which includes using your phone to scroll through playlists. You could be charged £200 for committing this offense and receive a six point penalty on your licence, even when you are in stationary traffic or parked with the engine running.
Do not give priority to pedestrians at intersections
Changes to the Highway Code this year heralded a new “hierarchy of road users”, placing the greatest road liability on road users who pose the greatest risk to others. The new hierarchy is:
5. Cars and taxis
6. Vans and minibuses
7. Large passenger vehicles and heavy goods vehicles
This means that drivers must give priority to pedestrians waiting to cross at a junction and must respect the correct positioning when sharing the road with other road users.
With the new hierarchy of road users, drivers have a greater responsibility to protect cyclists. The Highway Code now says drivers “must not cut across cyclists in front of them when turning into or out of a junction or lane, just as you would not turn across the path of a ‘another motor vehicle’.
If you turn at a junction and cause a cyclist to stop or swerve, the driver would be held liable if this resulted in an accident.
Checking your smartwatch
While wearing a smartwatch while driving isn’t a crime, using one while driving soon will be – such as checking notifications or reading texts as it can constitute reckless or distracted driving. You could be fined £100 on the spot and three points on your licence.
Driving with a dirty windshield or license plate
The Highway Code clearly states that “windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from any obstruction to vision”. As the driver, the maintenance of the vehicle is your responsibility, and if your vision is obscured due to a dirty windscreen, you are in breach of Regulation 30 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.
Likewise, a vehicle’s license plate should be clearly legible while driving. Driving with a dirty number plate that is difficult to read risks a £1,000 fine.
Driving too close to another vehicle
If you drive too close to the vehicle in front of you, otherwise known as tailgating, you can be charged with a careless driving offense. You can end up with a £100 fine and three points on your licence.
Driving with certain prescription drugs
It is illegal to drive if you have taken certain medications, including prescription medications, as side effects may affect your driving. If you have been prescribed any of these government-listed drugs, you should ask your doctor if you should drive while taking the drug before driving.
The police can stop you and assess you if they think you are driving with drugs. If they think you’re unfit to drive because you’re using drugs, you’ll be pulled over and you’ll have to take a blood or urine test at a police station. You risk a minimum one-year driving ban, an unlimited fine, up to six months in jail and a criminal record if you are convicted of impaired driving.
Smoking while driving is not an offense in itself, but if it distracts you from the road, it can be used to show reckless or dangerous driving. The Children and Families Act 2014 also prohibits smoking in cars with an underage passenger.
So if you smoke or don’t prevent someone else in your car from smoking, and you’re under 18 in your vehicle, you’re breaking the law.
Using your phone in a drive-thru
More and more people pay for goods and services with smartphones, but they cannot be used while driving, unless the vehicle is stationary, the handbrake is on and the engine is running. off. Otherwise you could be fined £200 and six points on your licence.
Driving too slow
Although rare, some UK roads have minimum speed limits. The start of a minimum speed limit zone is indicated by a circular blue traffic sign with a white number on the front. The end of the zone is indicated by the same sign but with a red line through the number. Driving slower than the minimum speed limit is dangerous and may result in a fine.
But even on major roads and highways where there is no legal minimum speed limit, driving too slowly can still be considered dangerous as other road users would find it unexpected. This type of reckless driving can earn you a £100 fine and three points on your licence.
Driving without declaring medical conditions to the DVLA
If you have a worsening or new medical condition which may affect your ability to drive safely, you must notify the DVLA. Reportable conditions may include: diabetes, syncope (fainting), heart problems, sleep apnea, epilepsy, stroke and glaucoma. If you fail to tell the DVLA you could be fined up to £1000 and, if you are involved in an accident, you could be prosecuted.
Abusing hard shoulder
You can only use the hard shoulder if your car breaks down or the hard shoulder is open like a lane on a smart highway when there are clear signs to indicate so . Committing this offense can result in a fine of up to £100 and three points on your licence.
Grab the middle lane
When a vehicle stays in the middle lane of a motorway for longer than necessary, it is classed as a reckless driving offence, and you could be fined £100 and three points on your driving licence.
Using your phone while supervising a learner
Even if you’re not actually driving, if you’re a driver supervising a learner driver, you shouldn’t use your phone in the car. In the eyes of the law, as a supervisor, you are ultimately responsible for the vehicle. If you touch your phone while supervising a learner, you could receive a £200 fine on the spot and six penalty points on your licence.
Flashing headlights to give way
Although seemingly harmless, flashing the headlights to yield to another vehicle is technically illegal. You should only flash your headlights to warn another vehicle of your presence.
According to Rule 110 of the Highway Code, you must not flash your headlights for any other reason or to intimidate other road users. If an accident were to occur, you could be held responsible.
Using the car horn in anger or in a built-up area
According to Rule 112 of the Highway Traffic Act, you must not use your horn aggressively. You should only use your horn when your vehicle is moving and to warn other road users of your presence.
It is also forbidden to use your horn in built-up areas between 11:30 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., unless another road user represents a danger. Both breaches could result in a fixed penalty notice of £30.