The little-known road rules we've ALL been breaking

How well do YOU know the Highway Code? The six rules even experienced drivers forget – including the correct place to display your SatNav and not using your phone to pay at the drive-thru

  • Most British drivers are unaware of several Highway Code rules, research shows
  • Some even admit to unknowingly breaching them in a survey of 1,470 Brits
  • Click4Reg poll discovered the top six unknown instructions of the guidelines 

The Highway Code has hundreds of rules so it is unsurprising that there are some even the most experienced of drivers forget. 

A survey of 1,470 drivers, by UK-based company Click4Reg, revealed the six Highway Code rules people are most likely to break without even realising.

Mobile phones cannot be used to pay at the drive-thru, for example, while there are tight restrictions on where a SatNav should be placed on a windscreen. 

While the Highway Code is not a legal document, many rules in the government-issued guide are backed up by law – meaning you can be fined, prosecuted or disqualified from driving if you break them.  

Most drivers are unaware of several Highway Code guidances and admit to unknowingly breaching them, new research has revealed (stock photo)

Sleeping in a car whilst drunk

Only 13 per cent of drivers surveyed were aware that sleeping in a car whilst drunk is against the Highway Code and that they can be punished for doing so. Alongside this, a staggering 33 per cent admitted that they had done so in the past.

While sleeping in your car after a heavy night out might seem like a good idea, it can result in a maximum fine of £2,500 and could even see you disqualified from driving.  

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, a driver can be found guilty of the offence if they are ‘in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit’.

Being ‘in charge’ of the car isn’t clearly defined, but if police think there was a likelihood of you driving, they can charge you with the offence. 

Fitting a satnav to the wrong part of your windscreen

The Highway Code says ‘windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision’.

Splashing pedestrians 

One largely unknown Highway Code guideline is to not splash pedestrians with rain water – and it’s backed up by the law. 

According to the Road Traffic Act 1988, a person could be fined up to £5,000 for deliberately splashing someone as it comes under the offence of ‘careless and offensive driving’.

The act defines this as using a ‘mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place’.

Those who are found guilty of driving through puddles and splashing pedestrians will be ‘likely’ to face a £100 fine and three penalty points if caught by police, according to RAC.

As such, the safest place for a satnav is low down on a driver’s windscreen, and to the far right, to minimise obstruction of their view of the roads.

If this is not possible, then motorists should opt for the lowest point in the middle of the windscreen – but it should never be placed high up as this could severely restrict a driver’s vision. 

Placing a satnav high on the screen also means that power cables could drag across the window and the driver’s view.

Using your phone to pay at drive through

Whilst it may seem like the fastest and easiest option to use your phone to pay at a drive-through, you could face a £200 fine or six penalty points.

However, for those who do prefer to use their smartphone rather than a contactless card, you must make sure your engine is switched off and your handbrake is applied.

Beeping horn whilst stationary

 Another widely-ignored law found in the Highway Code centres on inappropriate horn use (stock image)

Another widely-ignored law found in the Code centres on inappropriate horn use.

While many drivers like to use their horn in times of frustration, the Code says it should only be used to warn other road users of your presence and not ‘aggressively’.

Drivers ‘must not’ use their horns while stationary on the road or when driving in a built-up area between 11.30pm and 7.00am. If you do, then you could receive a fine. 

Leaving your vehicle idling

Leaving your engine running ‘unnecessarily’ while stationary on a public road could result in a fine.

An offence under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, it was brought in under  anti-pollution rules to encourage motorists to stop wasting fuel.

It is particularly aimed at drivers of buses and taxis who sometimes leave engines running for half-an-hour or more while waiting for passengers, pumping out pollution unnecessarily. 

The Act enforces rule 123 of the Highway Code which says: ‘You must not leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.’

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