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How Well Do You Really Know the Rules of the Road?

We all know there are lots of rules, regulations and laws we have to abide by when we take to the road behind the wheel in a motor vehicle, but how well do we really know them and what about the detail? There are some things that we absolutely know we should or shouldn't do, such as we should stick to the speed limit but not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But there are other things that are more difficult to quantify, such as having a clear windscreen and driving safely that can be somewhat open to interpretation by the police. So, here are a few things you might not know, or at least might not be totally clear about.


We all know drink-driving is perhaps the biggest no-no when it comes to driving, but do you know what the limits are? In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the maximum blood alcohol level is 80 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath. However, cross the border into Scotland and that level drops dramatically to just 50 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath. Of course, zero micrograms is obviously the best level for all concerned.

Mobile Phones

Although drink-driving is an incredibly dangerous and illegal practice that has now also become socially unacceptable, a lot of people don't yet feel the same way about driving while using a mobile at the wheel. To be clear, using a mobile phone while driving currently carries a fine of £60 and three penalty points on your driving license, but that is soon to double to £120 and six points. However, the police also have the ability to prosecute for driving while distracted, which could be fiddling with a sat nav, changing music on a touchscreen, eating, drinking or other things.

Seat Belts

Most people are aware now that it's the law you have to wear a seat belt when travelling in the front of a vehicle, but what are the exceptions and what about rear-seat passengers? The law is now actually quite clear: you must wear a seat belt if one has been fitted in the seat you're using, and that includes in the rear. There are exceptions for the emergency services, taxi drivers and for goods vehicle drivers travelling no more than 50 metres between stops, but for most of us the only exception that applies is for a driver who's reversing, or one supervising a learner driver who is reversing.


There are a whole series of arguments around what is and what isn't desirable as far as tyres and the amount of tread on them is concerned. Unfortunately, the only thing too many drivers are concerned with is whether they are legal or not. UK law dictates that a vehicle has to be fitted with the correct type and size of tyre for its type and the purpose it's being used for. As for the tread depth, the legal minimum amount of tread your tyres have to have is 1.6 millimetres, and that's across the central three-quarters of the tread area around the complete circumference of the tyre.


Not too many drivers, especially those who passed their test many, many years ago, will know there are also rules concerning the use of the horn. The bottom line is that they should only really be used when someone's driving behaviour is really dangerous, and even then it should only a quick pip that's given. Anything more prolonged is then considered hostile, and it's also the law that use of a horn is not allowed in built-up areas between 11.30pm and 7 am.

14 November 2016

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