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

Imagine this. You’ve gone to pick your mate up but they’re late. You’re sitting in the car outside their place so you honk the horn to remind them you’re there ‑ and that they’re late!

Or perhaps, someone spears out of a side road in front of you. You brake heavily and avoid contact but it’s no thanks to them. You hit the horn hard to show your displeasure at their selfishness.

Let’s face it, many of us have probably done these at some point in our motoring career. But both scenarios fly in the face of the Highway Code. For a start Rule 112 is very explicit that you should “never sound your horn aggressively”.

The rules of the road say drivers should only use their horn when the vehicle is moving and they have to warn other road users of their presence. It says you must not use your horn while stationary on the road or in a built-up area between 11.30pm and 7am.

Flashing your lights isn’t a way to communicate

Another situation that we’re all familiar with is using headlight flashing as a means of communicating with other drivers. Whether it’s to say: “Thanks for letting me out” or “You’re jolly rude for cutting in front of me like that”, the headlight flash is a way to get your message across. But it’s wrong.

The Highway Code Rule 110 states: “Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.”

It adds that drivers should not take someone flashing their headlights at them as an invitation to proceed. Drivers must use their own judgement.

Playing loud music can get you a fine

Doing this could land you with a fine (Picture iStock/FGorgun)

You’re driving along and one of your favourite tunes comes on the radio. Time to crank the volume up to 11 and show the world you’re the next Ed Sheeran. Except it could land you with a hefty fine.

Driving with music that’s too loud can be deemed a distraction according to Rule 148 of the Highway Code. The police could fine you £100 and give you three points on your licence. And if it’s really loud and you’re charged with dangerous driving, you could be in line for a fine of up to £5,000 and a ban.

Arguing can land you in hot water

And not just with the other half. Under the same rule as loud music, the Highway Code also says drivers should avoid all forms of distraction. And that includes “arguing with your passengers or other road users”. A good excuse to avoid disagreements over directions.

Hogging the middle lane

For some drivers, hogging the middle lane is a rite of passage. But next time you pass or are passed by a driver who resolutely refuses to move over to the empty inside lane, know you’ve got the moral high ground.

Rule 264 of the Highway Code says drivers should stay in the left lane unless they’re overtaking.

What’s more, middle lane hogging can lead to a fine. Since 2013, it comes under the mantle of careless driving. That means a police officer can hand out a £100 fine and three penalty points.

You can now use your handheld phone legally to pay for food (Picture iStock/DavidF)

And one thing you can do…

There is confusion from some drivers around handheld mobile phone use while driving. The rules were tightened up this year with a heavier £200 fine and six penalty points if you’re caught flouting the law.

But there is one exception: drivers can still handle their mobile phone at the wheel to pay for things. Contactless payments using a mobile while stationary are legal. The law says: “This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.” So there you go.

11 comments on “Rules of the road your driving instructor may not have told you about

  1. Austin Parfitt 27/06/2022 7:14 PM

    Never use horn when stationary. If you have stopped and the car in front is about to reverse into you, do you just sit there and wait for the inpack

  2. Mike Talbot 27/06/2022 10:10 PM

    The hogging middle lane has been in force since 2013!!! I’ve never seen a police officer in force this ever, and I’ve seen police over take in the inside lane to get pasted drivers that do this, it’s ludicrous.

  3. Bonbon 28/06/2022 9:30 AM

    Thank you ever so much for your helpful tips. So timely for me.

  4. william osborne 28/06/2022 11:44 AM

    Very useful I wish other motorists would read this

  5. Stuart Wallis 28/06/2022 10:21 PM

    How is all this going to be policed??

  6. Gerry 29/06/2022 9:04 AM

    Thanks for the info, mostly common sense which some drivers DO NOT HAVE, so yes, how is going to be policed ??

  7. John Guest 29/06/2022 12:19 PM

    Here’s an interesting one – what about being distracted on our so-called smart motorway overhead gantry speed changes! Both my brother and son have been caught not adhering to the plethora of speed changes = changes that appear to happen randomly and for no apparent reason – other than to catch motorists. Its bad enough coping with maintaining a safe distance and remaining in your own lane, being sandwiched between Lorries and high-sided vehicles, but when the speed limit suddenly reduces then increases, and then reduces again, it’s ludicrous – is unnerving, and is surely potentially dangerous. My brother’s insurers, when he dutifully notified them of his fine/points, informed him that the majority of “speeding” penalties they’re noting are arising from these “smart motorway” penalties. Be warned – the worse area for being caught in this way is in the West Midlands region of the M6 and M1. So, is it a case of keeping your head looking up rather than straight ahead? And how many millions of pounds is the West Midlands Constabulary making out of this deceitfulness?

    • RB 02/07/2022 10:01 PM

      Another related distraction is the plethora of inane advisory signs on the overhead gantries – “Check your tyre pressure” (what, now???); “Ensure your eyesight is fit to drive” (let me check with the optician in the back seat); “Taking away your litter risks roadworkers lives”. These gantry signs are supposed to be for emergency or time-critical, brief notices that we really need to know about – not an opportunity for someone in a control room somewhere to think up new, snappy advisories for the motorist who is trying to keep his/her eyes on the road ahead!

  8. Linda 01/07/2022 7:55 AM

    Thank you for this information, it is good to help keep up with changes to the Highway Code. I have been driving for 45 years and like to keep if there are any changes.

  9. Barrington E Bridgeman 01/07/2022 11:56 AM

    These highway code reminders are useful for keeping us all up to date and on the ball. How about a future reminder about the new priorities for pedestrians and cyclists as they affect motorists.

  10. Mike 03/07/2022 11:05 AM

    Yes great stuff but not policed enough, just another note that readers may not be aware, if you move into Bus lane to let Emergancy vehicles past this is also illegal and you could be fined. The Emergancy vehicles should use the Bus Lane and not expect motorists to move into it to allow them to pass?

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