Regardless of how long you have been driving, there will be some laws that may…slip your mind from time to time. After all, there are so many laws and, if they are ones that don’t affect your daily drive, they could well lodge themselves at the back of your mind. There also could be some laws regarding driving that you haven’t even heard of.
And that’s where we come in. In this article, we are going to look at some of the laws we think you should know. Some of these will be laws that have come in this year (2017). Others might be laws you didn’t know existed.
The 10 laws every driver must know
The new penalties for mobile phone use
This was an existing law that has been updated this year. And, while many have heard about it, there could be some that don’t know the true extent of this change.
From March 1st, 2017, drivers who are caught on their mobile phone while driving will receive a Fixed Penalty Notice for £200 and six points on their licence.
This means that if you have been driving for less than two years, you could be banned from driving entirely.
This law also applies to all electronic devices that can be connected to the internet. So things such as iPods, iPads, other tablets and some digital cameras. If you are supervising a learner driver you cannot use a handheld phone, as you are in charge of the vehicle.
If you want to use your phone as a SatNav, you will have to programme it before you start the car. The phone must also be in a holder out of the 45-degree angle of the driver’s view. If you want to re-programme or touch it, you will have to pull over.
While the law banning you from using mobile phones while driving has been in place since 2003, the laws have got considerably stricter.
Changes to the child seat laws
New guidelines have been put in place regarding booster seats for children. Under the new guidelines, backless booster seats are now only suitable for children who are taller than 125cm and weigh more than 22kg.
Children are normally meant to have a child seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first.
Having a child smaller than 125cm in a backless booster is not illegal. However, it is strongly recommended that you make the switch. It is for your child’s safety after all. We wrote an article on the new car seat guidelines, which you can read here. It will tell you everything you need to know, and where you can find the best new car seats.
Speeding fines are changing
Another law that has been updated, and one that will definitely catch your attention. From 24th April 2017, drivers who are caught speeding will receive tougher penalties.
If you are caught going well above the speed limit, fines will start at 150% of your income, instead of 100%. For example, if someone is caught driving 101mph or faster in a 70mph, the fine will be much harsher.
During cold weather, you need to clear your whole windscreen before driving
You could get fined if you don’t. It’s an odd one, but it’s worth noting because you don’t want to end up inadvertently being fined.
It should also be noted here that you can get fined if you have snow on your roof. The chances are, in the UK, if you have snow on your roof you aren’t going anywhere in your car. However, in the event that you do head out in the snow, you will have to clear it off your roof first. Again, this is good to know to avoid getting a fine. You don’t want to be caught out when you don’t even know what you’ve done wrong.
When you can and can’t use your horn
One of the most divisive aspects of driving, some are avid users of the car horn and others not so much. But, when can you use your car horn?
You can only use your car horn if you’re warning someone of danger. You cannot use your horn while stationary unless you are warning someone else of danger.
If you are in driving through a residential area, you are not allowed to use your horn between the areas of 11pm and 7am.
However tempting it might be, you can’t use your horn simply to show that you’re annoyed at someone while driving.
Of course, we aren’t accusing you of taking hard drugs. However, the drug driving laws also apply to prescription drugs. This includes diazepam, methadone and morphine. If you are on prescription drugs that could impair your driving, then this is illegal.
You could be fined, banned, or even imprisoned if you are caught driving under the influence of drugs. Whether prescription or not. If you are taking prescription drugs then listen to your doctor if they tell you not to drive. You might feel fine but it’s not worth the risk.
Cyclists are just as divisive as car horns. Whether you consider them a hindrance is your opinion, but you should brush up on the laws regarding cycle boxes. The cycle box is an ‘Advanced Stop Line’ (ASL). This allows cyclists to be positioned in front of other traffic.
If the traffic lights are red, drivers must not cross the first stop line. If you go into the cycle box then you could face a fine and three points on your licence.
However, if you are approaching the traffic lights and they turn from green to amber, then you are allowed to stop in the cycle box. Only if it is unsafe to stop before that. You must stop before the second stop line.
So, if the traffic lights are red when you approach then it is an offence to stop in the cycle box. If the lights turn amber as you are approaching and is unsafe to stop before the box, then you are not committing an offence.
Smoking in vehicles
There have been changes to smoking in vehicles quite recently, so you may already know these. However, it’s always good to refresh your memory.
It is illegal to smoke in a car while you are transporting anyone under the age of 18.
Below we have a handy video to help you understand this law further.
The 10%+2 is not law
When it comes to speeding, everyone knows the ‘10%+2’ rule. This rule is essentially where you will not get fined for speeding unless you are going ‘10%+2’ over the speed limit. So, for example, to get a speeding ticket you would have to be going 35mph in a 30mph zone. If you were going 32mph, then you won’t get a ticket.
However, this isn’t law. It’s simply a guideline issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers. It sets out the guidelines for enforcing speed limits.
The main reason this guideline exists is to take into account the accuracy of the device capturing the speeding driver. For example, speed guns aren’t always 100% accurate. But the guidelines state that this leeway doesn’t “and cannot replace a police officer’s discretion”.
So, if the police officer who stopped you decides that they want to depart from these guidelines, they can. The rule is not law. Therefore, you should not rely on it because you could still be prosecuted.
Changes to VED rates
Our final law that we think you should know is the changes to the VED rates. These have only just come into effect and studies have shown that the public are still unaware of how the changes will affect you.
Due to the increasing amount of low-emission cars on the road, the government have decided to make the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rates more evenly distributed. Before, there were less bands for the lower emission vehicles. However, now there are more low-emission vehicles on the road than ever before, it’s looking a bit one sided. So to fix this, the government have introduced more bands at the lower end of the scale. We’ve written an article all about this, so you can read that here.
So there are our ten laws drivers should know. You probably already knew all of these, but it’s always good to refresh your memory. And, if you didn’t, then we’re glad we’ve imparted some knowledge.