June 03, 2019

Most common driving myths uncovered

Driving vans for sale

There always seems to be a driving myth doing the rounds on social media, however that’s what a lot of them are – myths. Vansdirect has put together some clear cut answers to a few of the most common driving myths out there!

Most common driving myths

1. Is it legal to eat and drive?

It is perfectly legal to eat while driving, however if this leads to you being distracted, then the police could prosecute you for careless driving if you are considered not to be in proper control of your vehicle. This offence carries a £100 on the spot fine and three penalty points. Grabbing food at the drive-thru could also see you at risk of a fine if you are caught using your phone to pay when the engine is running.

2. Is it legal to drink whilst driving?

Just like eating behind the wheel, having a swig of coffee or water whilst behind the wheel is also perfectly legal, however it may carry the same careless driving penalty if you are accused of being distracted. It can be more dangerous on some occasions not to carry a drink in your vehicle with you, as being dehydrated can lead you to lose focus and reduce reaction times.

3. Is it legal to smoke and drive?

Smoking whilst driving, just like eating and drinking is not illegal on its own, however if distracted the charge of careless driving is again possible. However if you are travelling with passengers under the age of 18, it is illegal to smoke in your vehicle, with recent law changes seeking to protect children from second-hand smoke.

4. Is it legal to have a light on in my vehicle whilst driving?

There is no legislation against having an interior light on when driving, however if a police officer pulls you over and adjudges this light to be a driving distraction then they may ask you to turn it off or even charge you with careless driving. It doesn’t need to be a distraction for you, if it is judged to dazzle or distract another road user, particularly those behind you, then you may also be charged.

5. Is it legal to have open alcohol in a vehicle?

Surprisingly the answer to this one is yes. In the UK it is not illegal for a passenger to be drinking alcohol while being driven, therefore it is not illegal to have open alcohol containers in the vehicle, unless supervising a learner driver. The main alcohol law you need to remember is the UK drink-driving law, stating you can only drive if under the national drink-drive limit, or face a driving van and heavy fines.

6. Is it legal to drive with headphones on?

There is no specific law against driving with headphones on, however it is highly unadvisable as it can be dangerous. It could see you charged with dangerous driving, loud music may also stop you from hearing emergency vehicle sirens, level crossing warnings, other road users and potentially pedestrians approaching your vehicle.

7. Is it legal to make a phone call using a hands-free system

Using your hand-held mobile phone while driving is illegal. This could see you receive six points on your driving licence and a fine of £200. You are allowed to use a phone if it is fully hands-free, but you cannot interact with the phone in any way, this includes picking it up and even momentarily operating it. Any hands-free devices should be set up fully before you set off, so you can answer calls without handling the phone.

8. Is it legal to use a sat nav whilst driving?

Whether a separate device or a smartphone app, sat nav systems should be fixed in a set position on your dashboard or windscreen. Just like with hands-free phones, you should not interfere with your phone when using it as a sat nav when driving, leading to the same penalty points and fine as above.

9. If a speed camera doesn’t flash does that mean I haven’t been caught speeding?

This is a common myth, however it is not true. There are numerous types of speed camera, however only one type flash to take an image of you speeding, others catch you via infra-red light when driving towards the unit.

10. Can I drive 10% over the speed limit?

This again isn’t true. Speedometres of many vehicles allow a 10% error in overestimation (but not underestimation) built-in, this ten percent allowance does not exist. In Layman’s terms if you are caught with a speed gun exceeding the limit you are liable for prosecution even if you are 1mph over the limit.

11. Can I have a couple of drinks and still drive?

A common myth is that men can have a ‘pint or two’ or women can have a large glass of wine and still be safe to drive, however this may not be the case. Your blood alcohol level depends on a number of factors other than the alcohol you consume, these include whether you’ve exercised, how tired you are, or if you are taking any medication. These can all affect how your body processes the alcohol. With a number of factors to consider there is no cut and dry rule, our advice is not to drink at all if you are planning on driving.

12. Can I drive other vehicles with my fully-comprehensive insurance policy?

This depends completely on your policy, previously it used to be the case that numerous policies came with ‘driving other cars’ cover as standard. This is less common in the current climate and usually requires the driver to pay more for this. Even if you have this cover in place, it’s only meant to be used in an emergency, meaning your provider may not pay out if you are involved in an accident and don’t have a good reason to be driving someone else’s car. Check your policy to be sure of your specific cover.

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