While we would all like to believe that we are safe, law-abiding drivers, you can never be quite sure that you strictly adhere to every guideline. Unless you study The Highway Code for months on end, revising all 307 rules (yes you heard right, 307 driving rules to follow), along with additional chapters, then we can almost guarantee that there’s a fair share of offences you’ve never heard of.
To give you just a snippet into the hundreds of laws you must follow when behind the wheel, we’ve devised a guide to the 14 most commonly broken criminal driving offences.
Hint: It is more than likely that you’ve committed one of the 14 offences listed below!
Criminal Driving Offences You Probably Didn’t Know Were Breaking The Law
When learning to drive, and, to be honest, the rest of our time behind the wheel, we’re constantly reminded of the importance of remaining a safe driver. There are a handful of offences that we strictly adhere to, regardless of our level of experience. Some of the most common include speeding, drink driving and using a mobile phone while driving. We are all more than aware of the consequences, and we make sure that we never break these laws. However, there are a plethora of additional offences that, likewise, come alongside penalties and fines – many of which are committed on a daily basis without realising. Take a look below for the most common 14, unfamiliar driving crimes.
1. Overtaking At A Pedestrian Crossing
So this isn’t actually that common, but you would be surprised the number of drivers who obscurely think that this is acceptable. If you are coming up to a pedestrian crossing and see a driver sitting stationary to allow people to pass, you cannot overtake them. Opting to nip past a driver just as the lights are about to go green is breaking the law. You can never quite anticipate whether pedestrians are hidden in blind spots. Instead, you must stop behind any vehicles waiting at a crossing.
2. Driving A Van More Than 60mph
We’re all guilty of getting a little frustrated at larger vehicles, such as vans and buses, who drive slower than we would usually do so. But, there is a reason behind this. It is actually illegal for vans to drive any faster than 60 mph when on a dual carriageway. The same goes for single carriageways and motorways. On single carriageways, vans cannot exceed 50 mph, and on the motorway, there is a 70 mph limit.
3. Flashing Your Lights To Give Way
Flashing your lights is the correct way to give way to other drivers, right? Wrong – if you are caught committing this incredibly common offence, you could land yourself a whopping £1,000 fine!
As stated in The Highway Code, you should only ever flash your headlights “to let other road users know that you are there.” It also says that you should never “flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.” Even if you believe you are being courteous, for example, to allow another driver to merge into traffic, you should never use your headlights. The only acceptable time to flash headlights is to warn road users of an upcoming hazard.
We spoke to one of our trusted driving instructors in Leicester about the use of headlights:
“I honestly couldn’t count the number of pupils who automatically flash the headlights during lessons to say thank you to drivers, or to give way. They see their parents or friends do it. Many people doing it think they are being nice and helpful but in the eyes of the law and the highway code it is a driving offence. In some instances it can misinterpreted and cause more than one person, be it a pedestrian or another road user to to go on your flashing which can lead to more confusion and sometimes an accident. Certainly refrain from doing this on your driving test as it would be deemed as a serious/dangerous fault”
4. Parking Wrong At Night
When parking at night, it is more than just finding a spot that is away from double yellow lines. Rule 248 of The Highway Code states that you must never park facing oncoming traffic when it is dark. This is because, when drivers approach your vehicles with their lights on, there is a risk that your headlights will dazzle them. Failing to follow rule 248 leaves you open to a Penalty Charge Notice which could lead to a fine up to £1,000.
5. Using Phone Navigation In An Unfixed Position
Nowadays, it’s rare to see a driver using a sat nav device. Instead, most opt for the convenience of their smartphone navigation. While there is nothing wrong with using your phone GPS, you must ensure that it is in a fixed position; otherwise, you risk severe consequences. Your phone must be placed either on the dashboard or windscreen using a mobile phone holder. Failing to abide by the rules will result in similar consequences to talking on the phone and driving – a £200 fine and 6 points on your licence.
6. Parking On The Pavement
If you are visiting a friend or family member who lives on a busy estate with narrow streets, keep in mind that it is, in fact, illegal to park on the pavement – unless signs tell you otherwise. Even if you park slightly on the pavement to allow plenty of room for passing cars, you are breaking The Highway Code. It is classed as obstructing a pedestrian walkway; therefore, posing a danger to others.
7. Using Your Phone After An Accident on the motorway
In the unfortunate event of an accident, ideally, you should only use the orange emergency telephones located at the side of the road. Unlike the other sections of The Highway Code, this is an advisory rule, which isn’t classed as an illegal offence. In using the emergency telephone instead of your mobile phone, you will be instantly connected to emergency services, who will be able to pick up your location automatically.
8. Parking On A Single Yellow Line
When approaching roads painted with single yellow lines, it is more than likely that you will spot signposts with time restrictions. These inform you of the times in which you are prohibited to park on the lines – usually between peak hours. During the stated hours, you are only allowed to stop briefly on the single yellow lines, for example, to pick up passengers. Parking here for any longer than needed may result in a fine.
9. Sleeping In Your Car While Drunk
Although we are more than aware of the dangers of drink driving, it is now also illegal to even be in your vehicle while over the limit. The law states that “those in charge of a motor vehicle should not be inebriated.” This means that you can be charged if caught sleeping in your vehicle while drunk, leading to 10 points on your licence and a huge fine.
10. Using Your Phone To Pay At A Drive-Thru
This is one of those ‘lightbulb moment’ driving offences – you don’t class it as illegal when you do it, but when you think into it, it does make a lot of sense. If you usually pay for your drive-thru fast food using Apple or Android pay, then unless your handbrake is on and the engine is off, you are breaking the law. It is classed as using your phone while in control of a vehicle; therefore, a dangerous distraction. If you are caught committing the offence, you might well land yourself a £1,000 fine and 6 points on your licence. Find out more about this new law on North Wales Live.
11. Letting Your Pet Out The Car After A Breakdown
In the event of a breakdown, everyone is taught that both the driver and passengers must leave the vehicle while waiting for backup. However, the law states that only in an emergency can you also allow an animal out of the car. If you let your pet run freely, then you risk them running into the road, posing a threat to both themselves and other road users.
12. Failing To Turn On Parking Lights
Rules 249 of The Highway Code includes a parking law that you may not have heard before. It states that when parked on the side of the road or in a lay-by when the speed limit is more than 30mph, you must switch on your parking lights. This ensures that any upcoming road users are informed in advance that you are stationary and have time to move around you.
13. Using Your Horn At Night
Between the hours of 11:30 pm and 7 am, it is illegal to sound your horn in a built-up area. This could be anything from your housing estate to the city centre. While it is unlikely that you will face severe consequences for failing to follow this rule, it is classed as a driving offence; therefore, not worth the risk.
14. Having An Unreadable Numberplate/Non compliant number plate
Your number plate is your vehicle’s form of identification, which means that it must always be clearly readable. If you are caught with an unreadable number plate, then you risk being fined £1,000. Not only this, but you could also fail your MOT altogether if you turn up with a number plate filled with dirt/debris/cracks on it. Many people with private plates will also adjust the number plate, for example the DVLA expect to see: N15 EAN however, someone may purchase a number plate so it appears as N1 5EAN. The later definitely looks better but in the eyes of the law, it’s an opportunity for the police to pull you up. Make sure the spacing is correct, some number plates are over the top and can appear as extreme as: N1 5EAN (Sometimes 4-5 spaces in the middle.
When purchasing private number plates you should alway have the number plate provider showing in the bottom right of the number plate too. Number plate providers have guidelines they must follow as well and that is one of them.
Are You Guilty Of These Offences?
Now that you have familiarised yourself with the most commonly broken driving offences, do you still believe that you are the perfect driver? Regardless of when and where you drive, or how long you have been driving for, it is so important that you ensure that you keep updated with the latest driving laws!