Driving in the UK can sometimes be a confusing task, whether indecisively picking which lane to choose on a roundabout, or determining the speed limit of certain roads, you often have to keep an extremely close eye on what is happening around you. But before that, you need to understand the rules of the road – while all drivers in the UK have to pass their theory test, we can sometimes forget some obscure, and down-right weird driving laws enforced in our country.
So, we have listed 8 of the weirdest, and wildest UK driving laws you might not know – Do you do any of these?
1) Parking on a pavement in London
If you have ever walked on the streets of London, or indeed, any major city in the UK, you will have noticed the frustration felt at any minor inconvenience placed in your path – whether that be a slow walker, people stopped in the middle of the pavement, or simply a badly placed coffee shop sign.
However, you do not expect to be funnelled through a tiny gap because of a car; this is because, unlike other UK cities and towns, London has a strict set of guidelines used to prevent motorists from inconsiderately dumping their vehicle anywhere they please, paired with a £70 instant fine for those who do so.
People in London walk on the road, but unfortunately, that does not mean you can park on the pavement.
2) Failing to clear snow
The common mistake people make on those cold, winter mornings is failing to clear those mounds of snow from their roof, as well as their windscreens.
Yes, we understand that you want to escape the freezing conditions, and quickly jump into the safety of your car, but driving with snow on your car roof can land you with a hefty £60 fine, and 3 dreaded penalty points on your driving licence.
While it may paint a wonderful Christmas scene, the practice of driving with snow piled on your roof can carry some dangerous consequences and has the ability to cause accidents for other road users.
Now, that does not sound too Christmassy.
3) Splashing pedestrians with puddles
We often can feel the bleak British downpours of rain from above, but we do not expect them to come from below.
Drivers who deliberately target pedestrians, with sniper-like precision can be subject to fines reaching up to £5000.
Whether drivers do this for comedic purposes, suffer from a Jekyll and Hyde like-disorder, or just like to dampen people’s days, we would strongly recommend avoiding puddles completely (if you can), to save both your bank balance and your karma.
4) Dirty number plates
Are you the type to rarely clean your car?
Perhaps your friends have drawn obscene imagery from the dirt on your windows, or your car boasts a ‘CLEAN ME’ tag fixed to your boot?
If either of the above ring true – then you may want to start a cleaning regime for your vehicle; especially considering the HUGE fine that could be imposed if that dirt, mud, or other substance were to cover your number plate. Fines for intentionally, or unintentionally, covering your number plate could land you with a bill for £1000.
Road cameras do not have the capabilities to read a dirty registration plate, and will subsequently be unable to issue fines for speeding, or any other illegal activities you may be (hopefully not) performing.
So go ahead, treat your car! Before you are pulled over by the Police.
5) Warning drivers of speed traps
While you may feel like a noble hero, doing your public service by warning other drivers of a potential speed trap, you will also be significantly increasing your risk of being fined.
Flashing your lights at oncoming vehicles as a warning is viewed as obstructing the Police in their duty, and while you may feel like a hero for that brief moment in time – unless you have the deep pockets of Bruce Wayne (Batman), you may have to cut back on your public service.
Speed traps are there to help catch ‘bad guys’, so let them do their job Batman; unless you want to be fined up to £1000.
6) Driving too slow
It is common knowledge that driving in excess of the speed limit is illegal within the UK, but what about driving too slowly?
While there is no current minimum speed requirement on the vast proportion of our roads, you may still be slapped with a fine for driving at a snail’s pace.
The law surrounding this area remains vague, and as such, there is no standardised imposed penalty for this action; however, the Police may determine the severity of risk caused to other drivers and could find a driver to be driving without due care or attention, which is accompanied by a heftier penalty.
The motorway carries an easier guide to driving speeds, with vehicles travelling under 50mph deemed as hazardous to other road users, and at higher risk of causing accidents with this style of driving.
We recommend that you become more accustomed to travelling at high speeds before taking to the motorway, to avoid sanctions and annoying fellow drivers. But don’t be nervous, driving on the motorway is actually the safest way of driving.
But if you have a sinking feeling when thinking of motorway driving, read this article on tips for driving on the motorway.
7) Unrestrained pets
According to the RSPCA, it is estimated that 44% of the UK population have one or more pets in their households.
So whether you are infatuated with your prize Chihuahua, and need to take them on your day-to-day adventures, or insist on bringing your Siamese cat to your weekly owners’ meetings, please make sure that you use the proper restraints while driving.
Otherwise, you could face a fine of £5000 and 9 penalty points on your driving licence, as well as risking the safety of your beloved companion.
According to the Highway Code, it is advisable to use a seat belt harness, dog cage, pet carrier, or an appropriate preventative measure for restraining animals to ensure they are unable to distract or injure you whilst driving.
(P.S. If you choose to take your pet Cockatoo to the store, we would definitely advise putting some restraint on, to avoid potential heartbreak.)
8) Sleeping it off in your car
Finally, sleeping in your car after a heavy drinking session; many rumours exist and circulate around this particular topic, but we are here to conclusively tell you not to drink alcohol and sleep in your car!
It may seem like an obvious place to stay when you have had a few drinks – away from the UK winter extremes. Nevertheless, choosing to avoid the expense of a hotel room or a taxi ride home could cost you much, much more than these two options combined (Unless you are staying at the Ritz). Drivers sleeping in their car under the influence of alcohol will result in a large fine and a total of 10 points on your driving licence.
What does this mean for young drivers with less than 2 years on their driving licence?
An instant driving ban!
The United Kingdom can be a strange place, with some even stranger laws, but we hope that this guide to avoiding common pitfalls helps you save money, and potentially some penalty points.
But remember, if you choose to venture outside of the UK in your vehicle, then make sure that you fully understand the laws on the roads. RAC have compiled a basic checklist to help you understand how to drive in Europe and some of its strange laws.
If you like what you have read, and somehow knew all of these strange driving laws, then challenge yourself more with some of the urban myths of driving in the UK from insurethebox.