Don't get caught by these motoring myths

close up of person holding steering wheel in car
We’ve previously talked about new laws and regulations that have recently come into effect and that you may have missed, but at our car repair garage in Stockton-on-Tees, we’ve heard our fair share of rumours, myths and outright fibs when it comes to motoring law in the UK.

While most of these are harmless and possibly sensible thinking, some of these are real and could land you in hot water should you break them.

We look at some of the laws people often forget and point out some of the ones you might worry about but aren’t actually Acts of Parliament.

You aren’t breaking the law if you…

Eat and drink behind the wheel

What’s a road trip without plenty of snacks? Whether you pack your own or spring for a meal deal in a service station supermarket, you’re going to need to fuel both your car and yourself. Admittedly, not every trip is a road trip, but we know driving home with an empty stomach can feel like it.

If you decide to tuck into a cereal bar or a piece of fruit, you’re not breaking the law. You’re legally allowed to eat and drink behind the wheel as long as it doesn’t affect your driving or cause you to drive carelessly. And for that reason alone, we suggest you leave the three-course meal for when you get home.

Drive with your interior lights on

Did anyone else’s parents panic if the interior light came on whilst inside a moving car, or was it just mine? Replacing the interior lights isn’t something we often do at our garage services here in Stockton-on-Tees, and maybe that’s because no one uses them for fear of being arrested.

However, there’s no such law to say that having a light on inside your car whilst driving is illegal. At worst, the police can pull you over and ask you to turn it off if it’s too distracting, but unless you have a disco ball twirling above your dashboard, you’ll probably be ok.

Use your headphones whilst driving

This is one of those things that isn’t illegal but is probably sensible to avoid, especially if you’re prone to belting out your favourite tunes at max level. Again, it’s something that can lead to careless driving and ultimately the potential for a fine or points on your licence.

If your radio is broken, or you’re tired of enduring your passengers’ poor taste in music, headphones are ok at a sound level where you can still hear what’s happening around you. However, it’s probably best to remove your headphones once you arrive at our car repair garage in Stockton-on-Tees so that you can hear what we’re saying!

Drive-in bare feet or in flip-flops

There are no laws around what you should wear on your feet when it comes to driving, but just because there’s no law against it doesn’t mean you should. Granted, flip-flops and bare feet are (marginally) better than clown shoes or scuba diving flippers, but you have to be 100% certain that your lack of footwear isn’t going to harm your driving capabilities. Something that might not be so guaranteed should you enter the car with wet feet.

While not illegal, the Driving Standards Agency, the body that regulates the UK driving test, states that bare feet don’t have the same braking power as those with shoes on, making suitable footwear an essential part of the journey.

You are breaking the law if you…

Move irresponsibly for an ambulance

While it’s essential you move out of the way to let an ambulance, fire service or police pass you, you don’t have to drive through a red light into a bus lane and stop halfway across the curb.

If you end up breaking traffic laws whilst trying to move for an ambulance, you could find yourself fined and the unhappy owner of up to three penalty points. It’s always good to be considerate, but be wary that your driving doesn’t mean you need our garage services in Stockton-on-Tees prematurely.

Use your phone in a drive-thru

This is an easily missed one. We’re all aware that you’re not allowed to use your mobile phone while driving – it carries a £200 fine and 6 penalty points (and, if you’ve been driving for less than two years, you’ll lose your license, too) – but this also extends to when you’re barely
moving or stationary. No matter how slowly you pick up that fast food in a drive-thru, if your engine is on and you’re paying for the food with your phone, technically, you’re using your phone while driving.

The best practice is to stop entirely, put your handbrake on and then pay. Alternatively, use your card or cash.

Splash pedestrians with a puddle of water

It’s a staple of every romantic comedy ever; the main character is walking down the street on a rainy day, an inconsiderate driver splashes them, and the person they fancy comes around the corner to see them looking drowned.

Honestly, it’s criminal. No, not the wet protagonist. Splashing a pedestrian with your car is a criminal offence. Known as “driving without reasonable consideration for other persons”, if it goes to court, you could theoretically receive three points on your license and a fine of up to £5000 for splashing someone with a puddle. Going to the cinema will never be the same again.

Drive too slow

We have complaints from time to time in our car repair garage in Stockton-on-Tees that customers’ cars are moving too slow. Typically this is a problem we can fix; however, if you’re driving too slow on purpose, dawdling or taking too long to go anywhere, you’re breaking the law.

Classed as “inconsiderate driving”, you can actually find yourself in trouble if you’re slowing down for far too long with no reasonable cause!

If you’re curious about how we can help you and your car at our Teesside garage, please contact us here.

Written by
Vasstech Garage Manager
Ian Sorlie
Managing Director


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