How Many ‘Driving Laws’ Aren’t Laws….. But Might As Well Be?

We hear about driving laws all the time. But for something which so many of us do every day, there are a surprising number of myths, half-truths and downright falsehoods about driving, along with real truths an good advice which have been repeated, shared and embellished to the point where it’s hard to tell what the real rules are and what’s just urban legend.

We’ve had a look at some of the ‘laws’ which we often see quoted to see whether there’s anything behind them other than a good story!

Many of the urban legends which have a foundation in truth are often where doing a certain something has landed someone in trouble once, so, when the story gets re-told, it’s stated (wrongly) that this particular action was ‘against the law’ when that’s not really the case, but in that particular circumstance the action being described breached another law, which resulted in the conviction.

There are lots of things you can do when driving which aren’t specifically illegal, but could put you at odds with other laws. Essentially anything you do behind the wheel, while not being against the law per se, could see you getting in trouble if it’s considered to distract you, impair your driving or otherwise interfere with the safe use of your vehicle or, of course, your rented vehicle. Some of our favourite examples are as follows;

It’s illegal to drive without clearing the snow off the roof of your vehicle

There’s a grain of truth here, but you won’t find a law about snow and car roofs on the statute books. But bear in mind that at least some of this snow will fall off while you’re driving, either as a cloud of flakes or in larger chunks. Potentially landing on the windscreen of the vehicle behind you, which could be construed as the offence of ‘driving without due consideration’. Also consider that if you apply the brakes, the snow might slide onto your own windscreen and it IS illegal to drive without a clear view of the road ahead.


It’s illegal to drive through a puddle and splash a pedestrian

It’s an unkind thing to do, but there’s no specific law against splashing pedestrians. There is, however, a law against ‘careless and inconsiderate driving’ (The Road Traffic Act 1988) which would certainly cover this anti-social behaviour.


It’s Illegal to ‘hog’ the middle lane

When driving on the motorway, we’ve all encountered someone who sits in the middle lane of a three lane carriageway, despite there being no traffic in the left-hand lane and refuses to move to the left. There is no specific law against sitting in the middle lane, but the highway code (rule 264 if you want to look it up)  states that you should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear and if you move to the right to overtake, you should return to the left lane as soon as safe and practical.

While the Highway Code is itself not law, failing to follow it could well be considered ‘careless driving’ which is being used by the Police to pull over those caught cruising in the middle, resulting in on the spot fines and penalty points on offender’s licenses. Given that middle lane hogging is considered by many to be one of the most selfish, anti-social and inconsiderate of bad driving habits, it’s often a practice which drivers are particularly happy to see penalised.


It’s legal to drive 10% Above the Speed Limit

This is just plain untrue. You must not exceed the posted speed limit and to do so in an offence. Where this myth comes from is a combination of factors. The Police have a certain amount of discretion when it comes to prosecuting offenders. While technically they’re within their rights to pull someone over for speeding at even 1 mph above the speed limit, in practice it’s been suggested that they tend to allow 10% above the speed limit plus 2mph. This is down to individual force guidelines and officer discretion though, so don’t rely on it. Additionally, it’s been suggested that some motor manufacturers set their speedometers to show the driver a slightly faster speed than they’re going. We can’t confirm this, so again, it shouldn’t be relied on and you shouldn’t drive your Priory hire car a little faster to ‘compensate’!



Which other faux driving laws should appear on this list

While the above are some of our favourite myths and misconceptions, there a many more we haven’t covered. Get in touch and let us know which ones you think should be added to our list?