Home Somerset rules The eight things you should NOT do on the highway according to the rules of the road

The eight things you should NOT do on the highway according to the rules of the road

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Driving on the freeway can sometimes be hellish. The stop-start traffic, crashes and diversions are enough to make even seasoned drivers tear their hair out.

In addition to normal traffic rules, highways have additional restrictions that can confuse and irritate motorists who haven’t read their driving theory. Breaking these rules could get you in a lot of trouble, even a traffic accident.

No tractors on the highway, no hitchhiking and no reversing are just some of the rules that drivers who have had their license for a while might not be aware of. We have compiled below a list of traffic rules that drivers “MUST NOT” taking a break or facing a road check by the traffic police.

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1. Prohibited vehicles

The highway should only be used by specific vehicles such as cars, vans and trucks. Drivers of these vehicles must have a full UK license for the vehicle they are driving.

Tractors and mobility scooters should not be driven on the highway.

Highway Code 253 states: Highways MUST NOT be used by pedestrians, holders of provisional motorcycle or car licences, drivers of motorcycles under 50 cc, cyclists, horse riders, certain slow vehicles and carriers of bulky loads (except with special authorization), agricultural vehicles and electric wheelchairs/electric mobility scooters

2. Disobey freeway signs

Although some highway signs can be advisory, such as an orange traffic warning sign, drivers can get into a lot of trouble if they don’t follow certain highway warning signs. If you see a sign with a flashing red light, you should follow its instructions.

Highway Code 258 states: “Flashing red light signals and a red ‘X’ on a sign identify a closed lane in which people, stopped vehicles or other hazards are present. You

  • MUST follow directions on signs before a closed lane to move safely to an open lane
  • MUST NOT drive in a closed lane. A sign will inform you when the lane is no longer closed by displaying a speed limit or the word ‘END’

“Where flashing red lights and all lanes closed are shown on a sign, the road is closed. You

  • MUST NOT go beyond the sign in any lane or use the hard shoulder to avoid a road closure unless instructed to do so by a police or traffic officer.”

Highway Code 257, which covers amber advisory warnings, states: “Flashing amber lights. These signals warn of danger ahead. You must

  • reduce your speed
  • be ready for danger
  • only increase your speed when passing a non-flashing signal, or a sign displaying a national speed limit or the word ‘END’, and you are sure you can do so safely.


3. Speeding

Every driver knows that exceeding the speed limit is an offense, but some might think that temporary speed signs are just advice. If you see a speed limit in a red circle on the highway, you should follow that speed.

Highway Code 261 states: “You MUST NOT to go past

  • a speed limit displayed in a red circle on a sign
  • the maximum speed limit for the road and for your vehicle (see Rule 124).

“Speed ​​limits are enforced by the police”

4. Illegal road movements

Did you know that you cannot reverse on the highway, even if you are stopped in a rest area or on the hard shoulder? There are a few road movements that are automatically illegal unless directed by a police officer.

Highway Code 264 states: “Unless instructed by a police or traffic officer, you MUST NOT

  • backing up along any part of a highway, including ramps, emergency shoulders, and emergency zones
  • cross the central reservation
  • ride against the tide.

“If you missed your exit, or if you took the wrong route, continue to the next exit”



A screenshot from a video showing the crazy moment a driver uses the hard shoulder to avoid delays
A screenshot from a video showing the crazy moment a driver uses the hard shoulder to avoid delays

5. Vehicles prohibited from using the right lane

Sometimes referred to as the “fast lane”, the rightmost lane of the freeway is reserved for certain vehicles when overtaking. However, there are a number of vehicle types that are not permitted to use this lane.

Highway Code 265 states: “The right lane of a highway with three or more lanes MUST NOT be used (except in prescribed circumstances) if you are driving

  • any vehicle towing a trailer
  • a goods transport vehicle with a maximum laden weight exceeding 3.5 tonnes but not exceeding 7.5 tonnes, which must be equipped with a speed limiter
  • a goods transport vehicle with a maximum laden weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes
  • a passenger vehicle with a maximum laden weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes constructed or adapted to carry more than eight seated passengers in addition to the driver
  • a passenger vehicle with a maximum laden weight not exceeding 7.5 tonnes which is constructed or adapted to carry more than eight seated passengers in addition to the driver, who must be fitted with a speed limiter.”

6. When Can You Use Hard Shoulder

The lane to the left of the “slow lane” on the freeway is known as the hard shoulder and is widely used by emergency vehicles to avoid traffic. It can sometimes be used by other drivers when overhead signage displays a speed limit on that lane

Highway Code 269 states: “You MUST NOT use hard shoulder except in an emergency or when told to do so by police, traffic officers or a traffic sign.

hard shoulder (when used as an additional channel). Hard shoulder is used as an extra lane on some highways during times of congestion. A red “X” or an empty sign above the shoulder means you MUST NOT use the hard shoulder except in an emergency.

“You can only use the hard shoulder as an additional lane when a speed limit is posted above the hard shoulder.”



7. You can’t stop on the freeway

If a call comes in to your phone, it may be tempting to pull over to a curb or hard stop zone to answer it. This is not allowed anywhere on the freeway and you must wait until you have left the freeway to stop your vehicle.

Highway Code 271 states: “You MUST NOT Stop on any carriageway, emergency area, shoulder, ramp, median or hard shoulder, except in an emergency or when police, traffic officers, an emergency sign or red signal lights turn signals warn you.

“Do not stop on any part of a highway to make or receive mobile phone calls, except in an emergency.”

8. Don’t pick up or drop off anyone on the freeway

Although this rule is brief, it clearly states that you should not stop to pick someone up, or even walk on the freeway. So if you see someone trying to hitchhike, you could get in trouble with the law or even cause an accident.

Highway Code 272 states: “You MUST NOT picking up or dropping off someone, or walking on a highway, except in an emergency.”

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