Five driving rules you should know but might not
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Five rules of the road you should know

How long has it been since you passed your driving test? For many of us it can seem like a lifetime ago.

And even though you might drive regularly, and benefit from plenty of experience behind the wheel, there could be a few road rules that have become a little hazy.

If that’s the case, you’re surely not alone. But it’s a good idea to get up to speed on the some of the rules you may not be so sure about.

1.    How to use your fog lights properly

How often do you see drivers with their fog lights on, even when visibility is near-perfect?

These drivers might not realise that under the Highway Code you mustn’t use fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced.

When visibility improves, you must switch your fog lights back off again. If not, you risk dazzling other road users, which could cause an accident. You can also be fined for misuse of fog lights.

Here’s what Suffolk Police[1] says on the matter: “For vehicles fitted with front fog lights (rear fog lights are also included), it is an offence to illuminate them unless visibility is seriously reduced, which is defined as driving rain, snow or fog with visibility less than 100 metres. Fog lights cause dazzle to other drivers and can attract a £50 non-endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice.”

2.    Don’t let your dog stick its head out of the window

The Highway Code states that animals should be suitably restrained when travelling in a vehicle. It says: “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly.”

“A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars”, it adds.

If you break the Highway Code, you could be pulled over for driving without due care and attention[2]. This could result in a fine and penalty points.

3.    Beware of splashing pedestrians

If you’re on foot on a rainy day, it can sometimes seem like vehicles drive by and splash you on purpose. We’ve all been there. What drivers may not realise is that it’s actually illegal to splash a pedestrian with water from the road.

Under section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, this could be considered driving “without reasonable consideration for other persons.”

According to the RAC, those found guilty of deliberately driving through puddles and splashing pedestrians will likely be hit with a £100 fixed penalty notice and three penalty points if caught by police[3]. This can rise as high as £5,000 if the motorist is deemed to have driven in a way that “amounts to a clear act of incompetence, selfishness, impatience, and aggressiveness”.

In 2014, a man was banned from driving and fined £500 after he drove through a puddle, soaking a woman and her two children as they walked to school in Colchester[4].

4.    Keep to a 30mph speed limit as standard

If there is street lighting, and no signs to the contrary, then the default speed limit is 30mph[5]

Where there’s no street lighting, the speed limit for cars and motorcycles is usually 60 mph for single carriageway roads, and 70 mph for dual carriageway roads. 

But did you know there are, on rare occasions, minimum speed limits[6]? These are indicated by a round, blue road sign with the speed limit inside it. These limits are usually found in tunnels, to keep traffic flowing. This is a good one to remember so you don’t get caught out.

5.    Stopping at Zebra Crossings

Surprisingly, many drivers can be confused by pedestrian crossings. In fact, eight out of ten drivers admit they don’t know when they should give way to pedestrians at zebra crossings, according to research published last year[7].

By law, vehicles must stop to allow a pedestrian to cross if the person has already set foot on the zebra crossing. But drivers also need to look out for pedestrians waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop to let them cross.

For more driving tips and advice, see go to our Rias tips and guides hub

[1] https://www.suffolk.police.uk/advice/roads-and-vehicles/car-modifications

[2] https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/answers/can-you-drive-with-your-dog-in-the-car

[3] https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/news/motoring-news/drivers-splashing-pedestrians-face-fines-of-up-to-5000/

[4] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2575010/New-driver-22-banned-road-fined-500-splashing-children-way-school.html

[5] https://www.safedrivingforlife.info/blog/cars/whats-speed-limit-and-how-work-it-out/

[6] https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/98575/uk-speed-limits-everything-you-need-to-know

[7] https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/cars/80-of-drivers-are-confused-by-zebra-crossings-heres-all-you-need-to-know-about-uk-road-crossing-rules-3063232