Highway Code

How parking on someone else’s drive is legal and other strange laws

Parked on someone else’s drive? It’s not an instant offence (Picture iStock/Alphotographic)

Imagine waking up and finding someone else’s car dumped on your drive. It might sound strange but it happens. And astonishingly there’s no simple fix because one of Britain’s strange laws means it’s not immediately illegal.

You read that right. The 1991 Road Traffic Act handed over parking enforcement to local authorities. They can fine drivers for parking on public roads. But a drive is private land and the council has no jurisdiction over that.

The land owner isn’t allowed to remove the rogue car either as that could make them responsible for damaging someone else’s property.

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Rules of the road your driving instructor may not have told you about

rules of the road
Do you know when you should and shouldn’t use your car’s horn? (Picture iStock/PixelsEffect)

There are so many rules of the road that driving instructors can’t be expected to tell you everything. That, after all, is what the Highway Code is for.

But just in case the regulations have changed since you took your test we’re outlining some of the things most of us do, that we shouldn’t. Some can even result in hefty fines.

Be careful when you use your horn

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Test how well you know the Highway Code with our road safety quiz

The government is considering changing the priorities drivers enjoy on the road. It wants to improve road safety by protecting vulnerable road users such as cyclists.

However, safety charity IAM RoadSmart surveyed drivers. This revealed drivers didn’t like the idea. Nearly three quarters (71 per cent) think giving more priority to cyclists and pedestrians over cars will cause more arguments.

IAM RoadSmart policy director Neil Greig claimed if the rules are changed, drivers need to be educated properly. He said: “The Department for Transport needs to be realistic about the impact simply changing a seldom-read document will have on the behaviour and safety of road users.” Take our quiz to find out how well you know the Highway Code.

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Quiz: How well do you know recent Highway Code changes?

highway code changes

The Highway Code will never rank as a right riveting read. So it’s possibly no surprise that a third say they haven’t read the rules of the road since passing their driving test. And according to Halfords Autocentres’ research one in five haven’t read it for at least 10 years.

But while the Highway Code is hardly a page turner, it is vital drivers keep up to date with it. Our road environment, not to mention the technology aboard our cars, is changing at an astonishing rate. And the Highway Code is updated on a rolling basis to reflect this. Between 2015 and 2018, the rules of the road have been updated 48 times. Take our quiz to find out how up to date you are.

10 recent Highway Code changes

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The zip merging debate: is it perfect sense or pushing in? We find out

Do you let people in when the next door lane is closed to traffic? (Picture iStock/oversnap)

The debate on how you merge into moving traffic when the lane you’re driving in closes is a fierce one. Do you stay in the closing lane to the very end, then merge in turn with the traffic in the open lane? Or do you move out of the closing lane as soon as you possibly can?

It’s a bit like whether you put cream on a scone before the jam or vice versa. Or perhaps even more fundamentally, whether you pronounce the word scone like ‘own’ or the other way. The law states that we should merge in turn, better known as zip merging. Yet only around a quarter of drivers (27 per cent) know this is the correct thing to do. Read on to find out why people who stay in the closing lane aren’t doing anything wrong.

What usually happens

You’re on a dual carriageway or motorway and you see signs warning that a lane is closing. Most of us – seven out of 10 according to a survey by Halfords – believe we should get into the lane that is staying open as quickly as we possibly can. This can result in hundreds of metres of perfectly usable carriageway lying empty. On top of that, 3 per cent of drivers actually think it’s OK to spread their car over two lanes to stop anyone else using the empty lane. That’s nearly three quarters of drivers (73 per cent) who’re wrong.

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Quiz: How well do you know your road markings?

Road sign quiz

The Highway Code and its extensive list of road signs and markings is one of the fundamentals of motoring. But how well do you know it?

If you take our quiz and you’re a bit rusty, don’t worry: you’re not alone. A recent survey found that half of drivers don’t know what a roundabout sign is when it’s shown to them. And two thirds don’t know how far behind the car in front they should be travelling.

The survey was conducted by driver training organisation IAM Roadsmart. It is calling for road safety to be part of the National Curriculum so that it’s drilled into drivers from an early age. Take our quiz to see how you get on.

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Highway Code stopping distance needs urgent review, experts say

stopping distance

New research has revealed that the stopping distance prescribed by the government’s Highway Code is too short. They now believe it could take drivers half as much time again to come to a halt in an emergency. Road safety campaigners have called on the government to undertake an urgent review. They want the stopping distance section of the Highway Code revised.

How is stopping distance calculated?

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How to let an emergency vehicle pass without breaking the law

Five fails when letting an emergency vehicle pass: Driving in a bus lane

If there’s one thing on the road that all drivers are happy to make room for, it’s an emergency vehicle. But many of Britain’s motorists are unaware that by clearing the road for the blue flashing lights and wailing siren of an ambulance, fire engine or police car, they could be breaking the law.

From bus lane penalties to yellow box junction fines, there are plenty of mistakes that drivers may make when being passed by an emergency vehicle. The Highway Code (rule 219) says: “Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs.”

To help keep everyone on the right side of the law, we’ve flagged up the five most common mishaps.

Five fails when letting an emergency vehicle pass

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Driving licence points: how long do they stay valid for?

Driving licence

The number of drivers banned from the road for dangerous driving rocketed last year. Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) figures show that 5179 drivers lost their licence for driving dangerously in 2016. The figure was up by nearly a third (29 per cent) compared with the year before.

The stats show that young adults between the ages of 26 and 35 are the most likely to be disqualified. The Highway Code states: “In the case of serious offences, such as dangerous driving and drink-driving, the court must order disqualification.” The ban is for 12 months. Drivers can also be slapped with an endorsement on their licence of between three and 11 points. But how long will those points stay there after their ban is over? Here’s all you need to know.

How long are points valid?

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First aid kit for drivers and how to help at an accident scene

First Aid kit

It might not just be bent metal at the scene of a road crash

Either having or witnessing a road crash is most people’s worst nightmare. But as bystanders there is plenty we can do if we’re involved in, or come across, a road crash. According to the Red Cross, around half the deaths from road accidents occur before the emergency services arrive. But the vast majority of those fatalities could be prevented if first aid is administered in that time.

Carry a first aid kit

Road safety experts urge drivers to carry a first aid kit. And although these can be vital in an emergency, they’re also pretty handy to have in the car, just in case of the unexpected. After all, you never know when your child is going to fall over and scrape their knee or you’re going cut your finger changing a wheel. Continue reading