Many UK drivers confused by common driving laws

The Halfords Roadworthy Quiz has found many people are unaware of the latest driving laws.

A recent study by Halfords has revealed many UK drivers lack knowledge on common driving laws.  

More than 7,100 participants completed the Halfords Roadworthy quiz. The results revealed that large proportions of the nation are unaware of the latest driving laws, many of which can lead to fines and penalty points.

  • 87% of drivers don’t know you can be fined up to £5,000 for splashing a pedestrian.
  • 83% of drivers don’t know the laws surrounding parking on pavements.
  • 80% of drivers don’t know the fine for driving without screen wash.
  • 75% of drivers think it is illegal to smoke e-cigarettes in a vehicle with children present.
  • 72% of drivers don’t know how much the fine is for a passenger throwing rubbish out the vehicle. 
  • 73% of drivers don’t know having an underinflated tyre will lead to a MOT fail. 
  • 45% of drivers don’t know the penalty point fine for driving in a lane marked with X on a smart motorway.
  • 44% of drivers place a sat nav in the wrong place
  • 39% of drivers think learner drivers aren’t allowed on motorways.

In 2018, new MOT laws came into force, including prohibiting underinflated tyres, which can result in a MOT fail. Three-quarters (73%) of drivers admit to not knowing this new law, and more than a third (36%) don’t know the legal minimum tyre tread depth (1.6mm).

Four in five (80%) drivers are unclear on the maintenance law surrounding screen wash. More than two-fifths (43%) of those quizzed thinks driving without screen wash isn’t an offence, when, in fact, it could lead to a £1,000 fine and three penalty points.

Those with less than one year of driving experience are most likely (62%) to drive a car without screen wash, despite having studied the Highway Code as part of their theory test.

Many drivers don’t know the correct part of the windscreen to place a satnav. Three in 10 (30%) drivers think the centre of the windscreen is the proper place to attach it, when, in fact, the law states it shouldn’t obstruct the drivers’ view of the road. Therefore, a sat nav should be fitted in the bottom right-hand of the windscreen, to maximise a drivers’ view of the road.

In the UK, it’s only illegal to park on the pavement in London; however, almost three-quarters (72%) of drivers think it is against the law to park on the pavement across the whole of the UK. 

Drivers should also think twice before speeding through a puddle and splashing pedestrians, as 87% of quizzers didn’t seem to know that they could receive a £5,000 fine for such careless driving. 

In 2015, the Children and Families Act 2015 made smoking in cars with children illegal. However, drivers show some confusion around this law, with more than half (54%) believing that it applies to e-cigarettes too. More than one in 10 (13%) think it is only illegal to smoke a cigarette with an under 16 present, when, in fact, the law also applies to under 18s.

When it comes to smart motorways, a quarter of (24%) drivers believe it’s okay to use the inside lane or hard shoulder if there is no speed limit showing above the highway. This is in fact illegal. 

More than two-fifths (45%) of drivers don’t know you could be given three penalty points for driving in a lane marked with a red ‘X’ on a smart motorway. And, of the drivers who know it is illegal, the majority think the punishment comprises just a cash fine. The law states that such rule-breakers could receive three penalty points and a £100 fine.

One in 10 (10%) drivers with less than one years’ driving experience believe that driving in a lane with a red X isn’t illegal at all.

Two-fifths (39%) of drivers still think learner drivers aren’t allowed on the motorway. A quarter (24%) of drivers do know learner drivers can use the motorway, but don’t know under what circumstances. For instance, one in 10 (10%) think learners are allowed to go on the motorway after they pass their theory test; likewise, 14% believe the same but after they pass their sixth driving lesson. 

A spokesperson at Halfords said: “As we introduce more driving laws, it’s becoming easier to fall behind. This is why everyone needs to read the latest version of the Highway Code — to refresh their road knowledge and stay up-to-date with the latest motoring laws. In doing so, everyone will be more likely to avoid fines and penalty points. 

“Sometimes people break driving laws without even realising, so it’s best to brush up your knowledge before hitting the roads — especially as many of us have driven less during lockdown.”

2 thoughts on “Many UK drivers confused by common driving laws”

  1. Mark Clements

    No surprises there then. The lack of knowledge by drivers is unbelievable.

    Driving licences should be renewable every 5 years perhaps subject to passing a theory test with a incremental pass the longer they have been driving, this could be easily implemented through a local theory test centre (Pearson).

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