Driving distractions and laws, what applies to you? 

Here’s the million dollar question, how good a driver do you think you are? Now, be honest. Are you easily distracted by your passengers or radio? Or are you always extremely vigilant and on high alert when driving? It’s most definitely easy to forget how damaging road traffic accidents can be should we get distracted. But what about driving laws, are you fully up to speed? Are you fully rehearsed in the latest mobile phone and satnav driving laws? Well, we think there’s always room for improvement so we’ve written this blog post to bring you up to speed with the latest driving laws and to make you mindful of the common distractions that can cause accidents.

What distracts drivers the most?

We’ve collated some of the most common distractions that drivers face, let’s see how many are applicable to you.

Blinded by full beam

Have you ever been driving in the dark and all of a sudden you are blinded by the driver coming towards you? Well, you’re not alone! In actual fact, it’s one of the most common driving distractions. So next time you’re driving in the dark, focus on turning your main beam off around other drivers.

Heavy rain

If you are a fair weather driver, that’s ok. Weather conditions can be very distracting especially heavy rain. Often when driving in heavy rain, you tend to be more focused on what you can’t see, rather than focusing on the road ahead of you. Stay safe and if weather conditions worsen whilst you are driving, just pull over somewhere safe whilst they subside.

Getting lost

We’ve all been there, you’re driving somewhere unfamiliar, can’t find where you’re going, panic sets in and the last thing you’re focusing on is the road ahead of you. So, next time you’re driving to a new destination make sure you do your research beforehand. Maybe even look on Google earth beforehand to see what landmarks are near your destination to stop you getting lost and distracted.

Children

If you have children, then I probably don’t need to say anything else. However, children arguing or generally requiring attention are one of the main causes of distraction for drivers. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pearls of wisdom to stop children squabbling, but try to remain focused and if needs must, pull over, sort them out, then carry on.

When was the last time you looked at the Highway Code or refreshed your memory on what may or may not be a driving offence? Chances are it was when you took your driving test! Don’t worry, we are not judging! We’ve gathered some of the offences that people are less familiar with to ensure you are not breaking the law, without even realising it. Don’t get caught out, read the below carefully.

Flashing your lights to give way

Many of us commonly use our headlights as a form of communication to other drivers, for a number of reasons. It could be to thank someone, or to let the other driver know that you will wait whilst they pass. Technically if an accident was to occur as a result of you flashing your headlights, this would be seen as an offence. So, think twice before you flash your beams thinking you are doing a good deed letting someone pass.

Sleeping it off

If you’ve been on an unexpected night out and quite rightly wouldn’t even consider driving, would you consider sleeping in your car if you had nowhere else to stay? It sounds perfectly innocent doesn’t it? However, if you did decide to do this, you could find yourself being given a drunk in charge fine. The law states that those in charge of a motor vehicle should not be inebriated. Whilst left open to interpretation, you could argue that being asleep means you are not ‘in charge’ of the vehicle. However, police officers have been known to use this to charge people with a driving offence, so make sure you have a safe way home after you’ve been drinking.

Letting your animals stretch their legs

Have you ever been on a long journey with your pet and you unfortunately break down on the hard shoulder? It’s a terribly annoying situation, especially as you will most probably have to wait a little while for the breakdown company to come and save you. What about when Bruce the Siberian husky needs a toilet break and to stretch his legs? The Highway Code clearly states that you must leave animals in a broken-down vehicle when stranded on the hard shoulder. So sorry Bruce, you are going to have to cross your legs! In all seriousness, only in an emergency should you consider letting your pet out. If you were to ignore this and an accident was caused by your animal, you could face a driving offence charge.

Beep beep!

Are you one of those people that tends to say hello or goodbye through the medium of honking your horn? Well, something you may not know is that between 11.30pm and 7am in built up areas, it’s actually illegal! Whilst it is unlikely that a police officer would charge if you got caught, it’s still a driving offence you might not be aware of.

Dirty number plates

At this time of year it’s almost impossible to avoid having a dirty number plate, but did you know an ‘unreadable’ number plate is actually illegal? So if you haven’t cleaned your car recently and spend a lot of time driving around, it’s worth taking a look to see whether or not your number plate is legible. If not, unless you want a £1,000 fine it’s advisable to give your number plate a wipe.

Eating or drinking whilst driving

Whilst this isn’t strictly against the law, it is seriously frowned upon and if you are seen to be distracted and not in control of your vehicle, you could face a £100 fine or anything from three to six penalty points. This extends to applying makeup in the car, changing your music or anything that means you are not completely in control of your vehicle. Not to mention the fact that it’s not actually enjoyable to eat your food on the go! I’m sure you can allow yourself five minutes to enjoy your breakfast or lunch before set off on a journey and if you’re en route, there are so many service stations to choose from these days!

Using your mobile as a Sat nav

Are you up to speed with the latest laws relating to mobile phone use? If not, read our in-depth article here. However, in a nutshell, it is illegal to use your mobile as a satnav if it is not fixed securely to either your dashboard or windscreen. The penalty for failing to adhere to this has been increased in recent months, with drivers now facing a fine of £200 and six points on your license, so make sure you are compliant.

We hope you found this article useful either learning something new or refreshing your memory. Why not do a good deed and share this article with your family and friends, too much information is better than not being in the know!

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