British holidaymakers are being warned of the ten ways they may unwittingly break the law whilst driving to their annual getaway this year.
Motoring giant LeaseVan.co.uk has researched the little know driving laws that could most affect Brits embarking on long road trips this summer.
From eating and drinking while driving to using your mobile phone as a satnav when not fixed to your windscreen or dashboard, these are the most common things drivers do – particularly on long journeys – that are in fact illegal.
Surprisingly, the list also includes paying contactless with your phone at a drive through, and beeping your horn in anger at other road users.
Tim Alcock of LeaseVan.co.uk commented: “Whilst everyone knows that things like breaking the speed limit and driving under the influence of alcohol are not only illegal but incredibly dangerous, most won’t realise that things they do behind the wheel on an almost daily basis are equally as frowned upon.
“We’re probably all guilty of sneaking a swift sip of water on a long car journey, and flashing our headlights to give way to other road users, but these actions are in fact illegal and could land you hefty fines or points on your licence.
“Similarly, if you choose to rest on the hard shoulder or if you don’t properly restrain your four-legged canine friends in the car, you could be faced with a nasty fine.”
Here are ten ways you could break the law on your annual summer road trip:
1 Using your mobile phone as a satnav in an unfixed position
Although most smart phones come equipped with their own navigation app, it is in fact illegal to use your phone as a satnav if it’s not fixed to your windscreen or dashboard using a phone holder or something similar.
If you are caught breaching this law, you could receive six points on your licence and a £200 fine – and if you’ve only had your licence for two years or less, this could mean a driving ban!
2 Eating or drinking whilst driving
When you’re on long car journeys, you may find yourself needing to refuel yourself after a couple of hours, but whilst eating or drinking behind the wheel might not be strictly against the law, the police can still prosecute you as this might mean you’re not in complete control of your vehicle.
If you’re distracted by doing things such as snacking, drinking, applying makeup or changing a CD in your car, you could face a £100 fine and anything from three to nine penalty points.
3 Paying with your phone at a drive through restaurant
Contactless technology means that lots of retailer now allow you to use your phone to pay for items under £30 by simply swiping your device over the card machine, but although this seems like the easiest option when popping through the drive through on the go, you could face a maximum £1,000 fine or six penalty points.
If you do prefer to use your phone rather than a contactless card, you must make sure your engine is switched off and your handbrake is applied.
4 Beeping your horn in anger
Bouts of road rage are common when you’ve been stuck in your vehicle for hours on end and traffic just isn’t playing ball, and we’ve all had those days where we’ve been tempted to honk our horns at other drivers in frustration. But it’s important to always avoid doing this, as beeping your horn for any other reason than alerting someone of your presence could land you a swift £30 fine.
5 Driving too slowly
We all know driving too quickly can be dangerous, but surprisingly the same goes for driving too slowly as well.
If you’re a long way below the limit you could be punished with anything from a verbal warning to a whopping nine points on your licence.
6 Not restraining your dog in the car
According to the Highway Code, dogs should be suitably restrained in a vehicle so that they don’t distract the driver or injure them if the vehicle stops quickly.
Failure to do so violates rule 57 of the Highway Code and as such, motorists could receive a £100 on-the-spot fine and failure to pay could result in a court case and a maximum fine of £5,000!
7 Flashing your headlights to give way
It’s common for motorists to flash their headlights to allow other drivers to pass or pull out, but surprisingly, you’re not actually legally allowed to do this.
Headlamp flashes should only be used to warn other drivers of your presence, and if you are caught flashing your headlights for any other reason – such as warning other road users of a speed trap – you can face a minimum of a £30 fine.
8 Having a dirty number plate
If your road trip route involves muddy country lanes, take care to ensure that your number plate stays clean and readable at the very least, as a dirty and ‘unreadable’ plate could land you a fine of up to £1,000!
9 Splashing pedestrians with puddles
Britain’s notoriously unpredictable weather could mean that, although you’re taking off on a summer getaway, you still have to endure random downpours. You should take extra care when driving if this is the case, as splashing pedestrians – whether you mean to or not – could leave you with a fine of between £100 - £5,000 and three points on your licence!
10 Pulling up on the hard shoulder
The hard shoulder should only be used in emergencies so if you’re caught resting there, you could be charged with £100 and three points!