Wednesday 19th October 2016
Don’t drive too close to horses, eat, or splash a pedestrian: Ten bits of bad driving you might not realise you can get penalty points for.

Driving safely takes care, patience and attentiveness, but how many of us might be unwittingly breaking the law whilst behind the wheel?

Rob Hull, The Mail Online, reports:

Speeding, using a mobile at the wheel and having no insurance are three of the better-known reasons motorists receive fines and penalty points, but there are others that you might be oblivious to.

Last month we revealed that just 135 people had been issued with a £100 fine for 'middle-lane hogging', although more than a third of drivers claimed they didn't know it's been a driving offence since 2013.

Now we have teamed up with insurer Aviva to list 10 motoring violations that you might not realise could spell points on your licence or a fine.

1. Driving through a puddle to splash pedestrians

Splashing falls under section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, which dictates motorists are guilty of an offence if they drive ‘without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road’. This can often result in a fixed penalty notice. 

During a five-year period from 2009, 63 incidents of pedestrian splashing were reported to police, according to figures revealed to the Press Association last year.

2. Driving too slowly

Classed as ‘inconsiderate driving’, a motorist can be penalised if it is proven that another driver was inconvenienced by their slow movement. 

Figures from the Department for Transport suggested that 143 accidents a year are caused by motorists driving too slowly. Being found guilty of inconsiderate driving can mean up to nine licence points and an unlimited fine.

3. Flashing lights to request others to move or warn of speed traps

The Highway Code states: 'Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.' This includes notifying other drivers about law enforcement up ahead.

In 2012, Lancashire Police fined 20 drivers who flashed their headlights to warn other drivers about speed cameras.

4. Driving too close to a cyclist or horse

Motorists could be prosecuted for careless driving if they get too close to another vehicle, but the rule extends further than that. The Highway Code also states that drivers should ‘give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when over-taking a car’. 

Just last month, a new scheme was launched by West Midlands Police to target drivers who got too close to cyclists. Anyone found to be passing less than 1.5 metres away from a cyclist runs the risk of being prosecuted for driving without due care and attention - worth three to nine penalty points and a fine of up to £5,000 based on seriousness.

5. Watch out for strong prescription drugs

Rule 96 of The Highway Code states that drivers must not drive under the influence of drugs or medicine, so motorists are advised to check with a doctor or pharmacist, and not to drive if advised that they may be impaired. 

A Freedom of Information request made last year found that drug driving offences rose from 1,039 to 1,490 between 2014 and 2015, an increase of 43 per cent.

The penalties if found guilty of drug driving are severe: a minimum one-year driving ban, an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison and a criminal record.

6. Hang-over the limit? 

A night of hard partying can mean a driver could still be over the drink-driving limit the following morning, which could mean six months in prison, a fine of up to £5,000 and up to 11 licence points. 

Research led by Utrecht University in the Netherlands found that even when blood alcohol levels returned to zero the morning after, drivers showed the same degree of impairment as those who were intoxicated.

7. Eating behind the wheel

In 2016, a study found that 64 per cent of drivers admitted to eating while driving. 

If a motorist is found to be ‘driving without due care and attention’ while eating or drinking, this could lead to between three and nine points on their licence. 

8. Poor eyesight 

Last year alone 9,034 licences were revoked from car and motorcycle (Class 1) drivers citing vision as a factor, according to Vision Express research. 

The maximum penalty for driving with defective sight is £1000, three penalty points or a discretionary disqualification. 

9. Supervising learners – put down your phone

Being over the drink-drive limit while supervising a learner and having an unreadable number plate are both fine-worthy offences

Drink driving and phone rules are widely known by drivers, but it’s also illegal to be over the drink-driving limit, or use a hand-held phone, when supervising a learner. 

Learner drivers can also be fined up to £1,000 and get up to six points on their provisional licence if they drive without correct supervision.

10. Dirty number plates

The law states that number plates should show the vehicle registration number correctly. This means that numbers and letters can’t be altered so they’re difficult to read, nor should number plates be missing or too dirty or damaged to read. 

Drivers could be fined up to £1,000 with incorrectly displayed number plates. 

Pete Markey said: 'While some of the more obscure offences may seem surprising, it’s important to remember that they’re there for a reason – to keep our roads safer.

'If a motorist isn’t in full control of their vehicle because they’re eating, or they’re busy intimidating other road-users by driving in an aggressive way, this could have very serious implications if it then leads to a collision. 

'As sponsors of Road Safety Week (21 to 27 November), Aviva is encouraging everyone to take the Brake Pledge to make Britain’s roads safer. By thinking about our road habits and making small changes, together we can make a big difference.'

So next time you’re driving, make sure you abide to speed limits, avoid splashing through puddles and keep snacks to a minimum. Safety on the roads should be a top priority at all times, and anything done to compromise this should be recognised and treated appropriately.

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