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Driving myths: the confusion over legal (and illegal) motoring habits

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July 22nd 2020 info

How well do you know the law? After we’ve driven for a few years, it’s easy to believe that we know it inside and out.

Sure, we may know the basics, but what about the nitty-gritty details? Is it legal, for example, to drive barefoot? How about in high heels? Or how about whether you can pay with Apple Pay at a drive-thru?

If you’re struggling to answer these questions, don’t fret – you’re not alone. A recent study by findandfundmycar.com shows that many British drivers don’t know the road as well as previously thought.

Put your legal knowledge to the test and read which motoring habits Brits think are legal and illegal, and where we’re getting it wrong.

The habits we think are illegal, but aren’t

Our research shows Brits believe that a few odd habits are illegal. For example, over 75% of drivers believe driving barefoot is illegal, or are unsure.

Believe it or not, driving barefoot is actually legal unless you can’t properly operate the car, however the Highway Code does advise wearing suitable footwear. Respondents may believe that driving without footwear could be perilous, but there’s nothing written into legislation that prevents it.

The most notable habits drivers were mistaken over were:

  • Driving in flip-flops (46%)
  • Switching the car’s interior light on while driving (46%)
  • Driving in high heels (33%)

Just 22% of those surveyed correctly identified that the above habits were legal.

The habits we think are legal, but aren’t

The data gets a little more concerning when we consider habits that Brits think are legal but aren’t. Whether it’s the fault of old wives tales, or because of driving education, some drivers believe certain illegal acts are perfectly fine.

For example, a massive 72% of respondents believe it’s legal to pull into a bus lane to let an ambulance through. 63% also believe that paying with Apple Pay at a drive-thru is legal, though the contrary is true.

While these behaviours appear fine, they are, in legal terms, illegal and enforceable – and could earn you a hefty fine.

Other illegal habits include:

  • Flashing your lights to give way to someone (52%)
  • Beeping your horn at someone in anger (27%)
  • Going 42mph in a 40mph zone and not getting caught on a speed camera (36%)
  • Pulling over to check a map or your phone with the engine running (31%)
  • Using the middle lane of the motorway for normal driving (28%)
  • Beeping your horn at someone in anger (27%)
  • Believing the left-hand lane of the motorway is for slow driving (23%)
  • Honking your car horn out of anger (47%)
  • Driving with snow on the roof of your car (20%)
  • Sleeping in your car while drunk (14%)
  • Letting your dog out on the hard shoulder, even if broken down (11%)

Some of these behaviours may be more egregious than others, but police can punish each with a Fixed Penalty Notice and, sometimes, penalty points.

Are some ages and areas more guilty than others?

The data revealed some interesting differences between age groups and areas of the UK. 48% of 18-to-24-year-old drivers, for example, have used Apple Pay at a drive-thru, while only 3% of drivers aged 55+ did the same.

Other illegal behaviours, such as pulling over to check a map or replying to a text with the engine running, had splits in age demographics. Almost 2 in 5 18-24-year-olds frequently or sometimes do this, while only 1 in 5 of those aged 55+ have done.

There are also some geographical splits. Almost two thirds (63%) have driven with snow on their car, for example. Northern Ireland (74%) and the North East (72%) were the most likely to do this.

While discussing the fact that honking a car horn in anger was illegal, the data also discovered which cities had the highest amount of road rage. Belfast topped the list, with Plymouth coming in last:

  • Belfast 86%
  • Cardiff 85%
  • Sheffield 84%
  • Newcastle 82%
  • London 81%
  • Brighton 81%
  • Leeds 81%
  • Birmingham 80%
  • Bristol 79%
  • Manchester 79%
  • Nottingham 78%
  • Southampton 78%
  • Edinburgh 77%
  • Glasgow 77%
  • Liverpool 76%
  • Norwich 73%
  • Plymouth 70%

Phil Morgan, Head of findandfundmycar.com, responded to the research by saying:

“The offences might not be commonly known, but nobody wants to risk their safety or have to pay a hefty fine for something that they didn’t know was going to cost them, so it’s best to know these sooner rather than later.”

Drive away with a reliable car today

Now that you’re well-versed on the ins-and-outs of driving faux-pas, get yourself road-ready with a fresh set of wheels.

Discover a range of reliable used cars from trusted dealers today.

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