It is not always possible to keep on top of all the laws of the road. So, we, at Perry’s, have come up with some reminders for you. Motoring journalist, Tim Barnes-Clay, reports.
Irrespective of how long you’ve been at the wheel, there’ll always be some legalities you aren’t 100 per cent aware of. And this is why you’ll find this guide useful. A few of these laws will have kicked in during 2017, and there may be a couple you didn’t realise existed at all.
Child Seat Laws
New rules have been introduced regarding child booster seats. Under the new directive, booster chairs without a back to them are now only appropriate for kids who’re heavier than 22kg and whose height exceeds 125cm.
Youngsters are usually meant to have a child seat until they reach 135cm tall or 12 years of age, whichever happens first. Having a little one under 125cm in a backless seat isn’t against the law. Nevertheless, it is worth making the change, as it’s for your offspring’s wellbeing, after all.
As from 24 April 2017, laws on speeding changed. The edict means speeding motorists will get harsher punishments. If you are clocked driving way over the speed limit, penalties will begin at 150 per cent of your earnings, instead of 100 per cent.
For instance, if you’re apprehended for driving at 101mph or above in a 70mph limit, the levy will be much tougher. This updated law affects every driver, regardless of when the transgression happened.
Mobile Phone Use
It’s never been a good idea to hold a phone and steer a car at the same time. That’s why in 2003 it became illegal to do so. This law was ignored by many, so in March of this year, it was toughened up. From 1 March 2017, motorists spotted using a mobile phone while on the move will now face a £200 Fixed Penalty Notice, as well as six points on their driving licence. This has an even harsher impact on newer drivers. Motorists who’ve held a licence for less than two years could be banned altogether.
But it’s not just mobile phones, you will also be flouting the law if you use other devices, such as tablets, while at the wheel. You’re also not allowed to use a handheld mobile if you’re instructing a learner, as technically you are in command of the car.
Additionally, if you’re planning on connecting your mobile up so you can use it as a sat nav, you’ll now have to set up the route before you turn the key in the ignition. What’s more, if you want to reset the phone’s sat nav, you can’t touch the phone’s screen. Instead, you’ll have to come to a stop in a sensible place and make any changes with the engine off.
Some drivers are passionate horn blowers and others hardly dare toot at all. But, when can you use the horn on your vehicle? Well, on the move, you’re only really meant to sound off when warning someone of a hazard.
You’re not meant to blow your horn while immobile, either – unless you’re warning of peril. And you can’t use it in a built-up area between 11pm and 7am. What’s more, while it can feel like the thing to do, you’re not allowed to use your horn to show you’re upset at another road user’s antics.
If you don’t clean your windscreen in cold weather you could get punished. It’s a strange one, although it’s something you need to remember so you don’t get a fine. You could also be done if you haven’t cleared any snow off your vehicle’s roof.
So, in the middle of a cold snap, it’s worth doing this, for your safety and for your bank balance. You really don’t want to be stopped by the police for something you didn’t realise was an offence.
The laws concerning driving and the use of drugs apply to prescription drugs as much as illegal highs. If you’re on prescription medicines that could have an effect on your driving, then this is against the law. Drugs that will impair your ability behind the wheel include morphine, diazepam and methadone.
It’s not just a fine we’re talking about here, you could find your licence is taken away, or you could get banged-up if it’s proved you were drug driving – prescription or otherwise.
Bike riders are like Marmite – you either love them or hate them. They are road users, though, so naturally, you must respect them for safety reasons, if nothing else. And, whatever the case, it’s worth getting to grips with cycle box laws. A cycle box is an ‘Advanced Stop Line’. This enables cyclists to be situated ahead of other traffic. When the traffic lights are showing red, motorists mustn’t go over the first stop line.
If you drive into the cycle box area then you could be handed three penalty points and a fine. Conversely, if you are moving towards the traffic lights and they change from green to amber, then it’s okay to halt in the cycle box if it’s dangerous to stop beforehand. However, you mustn’t drive over the second stop line.
We all know smoking isn’t healthy – and it’s even worse for you if you light up behind the wheel. A recent change in the law now means it’s illegal to puff away in a vehicle transporting people below 18 years old.
The ‘10%+2’ rule isn’t the law. This is a guideline by the Association of Chief Police Officers only. It exists to allow for the accuracy of speed detection equipment and fundamentally means you shouldn’t get penalised for speeding unless you’re driving ‘10%+2’ beyond the speed limit.
So, for instance, to get a speeding notice you’d need to be motoring at 35mph in a 30mph area. If you were cruising at 32mph, then you wouldn’t get fined. However, if the police officer who pulled you wants to ignore these parameters, they can, as it’s not law. For that reason, you should not bank on it because you could still be punished.
Our tenth law that you should be aware of concerns changes to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rates. These have kicked in recently and research has revealed many motorists are not informed about what the changes mean. Owing to the swelling number of low-emission vehicles, the government has chosen to make the VED rates (also known as road tax bands) more uniformly distributed.
Beforehand, there were fewer bands for lower emission cars. But, now low-emission vehicles are getting more popular, it’s looking a tad uneven. So, to sort this out, the government has ushered in further bands at the lesser end of the scale. Make sure you check which VED band your car is in, and tax your vehicle correctly – otherwise you’ll be flouting the law.
There we have it then, these are the ten laws we think you should be aware of. There’s more than a chance you were au fait with most of them, but it doesn’t do any harm to be reminded. Of course, if you were in the dark about all the above, then it can only be a good thing that we’ve helped shed some light on these regulations. At Perry’s, we like to help, so why not visit us at one of our showrooms to have a chat about your vehicle needs?