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What are the rules around anti-social driving?

  • What are the rules around anti-social driving?

Understanding laws against nuisance driving

Part of being a responsible and considerate motorist is taking sensible measures to ensure that those around you aren’t disturbed or intimidated by the way you use your vehicle, as they’re big, and have the potential to cause a lot of noise. For the majority, this isn’t an issue, but when those that fail to do this begin to cause a nuisance, it becomes a case of anti-social driving. 

If you’re affected by the way in which someone drives their car, you’ll want to know the rules around anti-social driving, and what you can do about it. Read on to find out more about what antisocial driving consists of, and what counts as vehicle nuisance. 

What does anti-social driving consist of? 

Behaviour exhibited by a driver that causes distress or alarm to those around them, whether that be other motorists or road users, pedestrians, or neighbours is classed as anti-social driving. It can be annoying, aggressive (and therefore intimidating), or even dangerous. 

It’s also referred to as vehicle nuisance, as that’s exactly what drivers that engage in this behaviour are doing - causing nuisance with their vehicle! 

What is classed as vehicle nuisance? 

Annoying and unsafe behaviour in cars, vans and motorbikes are categorised in the following ways: 

1. Tricks and stunts

Ever seen rings of tyre marks in car parks and on roundabouts? These are down to donuts, and they’re an example of vehicle nuisance. If the local authority has not given you prior permission to perform stunts as part of an event that’s been properly organised, then you should absolutely not be doing tricks and stunts. They’re dangerous, and annoying for those living nearby as it’s generally a loud activity.

2. Racing 

Leaving road users and pedestrians alike vulnerable, road racing is another form of vehicle nuisance. This can involve weaving through traffic and running red lights at high speeds, so it’s not only highly illegal, but it’s also vehicle nuisance in a major way. 

3. Using unlicensed powered vehicles 

Powered vehicles such as hoverboards, motorised scooters, minibikes and ‘GoPeds’ are prohibited on public roads or pavements. Using these kinds of vehicles on a public road is classed as vehicle nuisance. 

The only exception to this rule is if you’re on private property - you will need the permission of the landowner though!

4. Street cruising

Street cruising involves groups of car owners or motorbike riders travelling together at speed, often ignoring road signs and signals, and putting other road users at risk through reckless behaviour. They can also attract crowds standing at unsafe points along the road and making noise. It’s easy to see why street cruising is classed as a vehicle nuisance!  

What are the rules around vehicle noise? 

Drivers can cause excessive noise through aggressive revving, aftermarket exhausts, or from the speakers within the car. This can cause real disturbance, particularly if a repeat offender constantly disturbs your peace and quiet at home. 

Since 2016, cars must be manufactured with exhausts that are no louder than 72 decibels by law, and these exhausts must be ‘type approved’ before they’re sold. Exhausts found to be exceeding 74 decibels are illegal. For reference, this is just a little louder than your domestic vacuum cleaner. 

If you’re found to be causing excessive exhaust noise and therefore a disturbance too, you’re risking an on-the-spot fine of £50.  

For other types of vehicle nuisance and anti-social driving, fines, points on your license, and other penalties may come your way if you’re found to be engaging in activities that cause harm or distress, just as it would if you were involved in other antisocial behaviour. 

Where do you report antisocial driving? 

If it feels appropriate and you feel able to approach the perpetrator (particularly if they’re a neighbour), a friendly, non-confrontational conversation to explain how you feel should be your first port of call.

Chances are that you may not feel able to do this, or the behaviour may continue after you’ve had that conversation. If this is the case, you should report the issue to the police, and you can usually do this either online, or via the 101 non-emergency line, or to your local authority.