The government has gone to great lengths to ensure that we know the importance of not drinking and driving, sticking to speed limits and wearing seat belts. However, for every fairly obvious offence such as using your mobile phone while driving, there are plenty of driving offences that aren’t so obvious. Here are just a few of them.
Driving too slowly
Many people are well aware that breaking the speed limit could prove fatal, but while you won’t be caught by speed cameras for driving too slowly, you might find yourself getting pulled over by the police. This is because driving too slowly can be classed as ‘inconsiderate driving’. Offences for inconsiderate driving are usually heard by the Magistrates’ Court. Prosecutors would have to prove that the speed you were driving was inappropriately slow and caused inconvenience to other users. If you’re found guilty, you’re likely to end up with penalty points and a fine.
While you might think nothing of having a quick snack while behind the wheel, but you can actually be charged with careless driving. That might seem quite harsh, but if you think about how both your mind and hands are engaged by simply taking a lid off a bottle of water, opening a packet of crisps, or peeling a banana, you’ll understand how in those few moments in which your attention is off the road, something terrible could happen. You can add doing your make-up, changing a CD, and a whole host of other activities under the heading of careless driving.
Using your horn inappropriately
The Highway Code sets out the rules for using your horn, and they don’t say anything about grabbing your friend’s attention or letting another driver know how angry you are. In fact, the Code says that your horn should only be used while you’re moving and to warn someone else about your presence (such as when driving around a blind corner). Furthermore, you’re not supposed to use your horn in residential areas between 11.30pm and 7am unless another road user poses a danger. While a fixed penalty notice of £30 for the inappropriate use of audible warning equipment might not be common, it might make you think twice before you reach for the horn.
Playing loud music
This is another offence that can lead to a £30 fine. Although it can be tempting to roll down your windows and start pumping out some music on a warm clear day, make sure you don’t turn the volume up too loud. Not only is it very annoying for people who don’t share your taste in music (and most of the time even those that do), but it could also be considered as distracting, whether to yourself or other road users. As you might expect, playing loud music at unsociable hours in residential areas is more likely to land you in trouble.
Holding a baby
With the fairly recent law change concerning younger passengers and baby/booster seats, most parents may feel that they are fairly clued up on the laws and regulations (all children until the age of 12 or 135cm tall must use a suitable seat). However, some parents still don’t know that holding a baby in a moving car is unlawful. If you should need to hold your baby for whatever reason, you should find a safe place to stop before removing it from its seat.
Whilst you might think that you’re a perfectly capable driver even while eating a sandwich and having the music at full volume, it’s likely the police won’t see things that way. Use your common sense and ask yourself if what you’re doing could be considered careless, inconsiderate or causing a distraction to other people – if it could, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
Written by James Sheehan, a blogger with past legal experience.