At least 77% of traffic accidents are the result of driver error. There are lots of weird and wonderful myths about what you can and can't do while driving. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones and see if there’s any truth behind them.
You're Allowed to Smoke While Driving - TRUE
It’s LEGAL to smoke as long as everyone in the car is over 18. However, if your driving is deemed careless whilst smoking, it could be used against you.
Smoking while driving IS illegal when you have anyone below the age of 18 in the car, and you can be fined up to £50 if you’re caught.
You can Eat & Drink while Driving - TRUE
Similar to smoking, it’s LEGAL to eat or drink while driving. But, if it results in dangerous driving then the Police would be able to use this against you in court.
In fact, Leeds University conducted a study where they found that drivers who ate while driving were 44% slower to react to events than usual…
You Can Wear Headphones while Driving - TRUE
While there is NOT a law against having headphones while driving, it could be seen as a violation of your duty to drive with due care and attention. Listening to loud music in headphones can be very distracting - just like playing loud music from the car's speakers. Both result in a lower awareness of your surroundings, for example, hearing an emergency vehicle behind you.
Once again, if a Police officer believes this activity if impairing your ability to drive safely, they could use it to prosecute.
You Can put in your Desintation on a Satnav while Driving - FALSE
A Satnav should be set up before you leave for a journey, so they do not require touching when driving. If Satnavs are stuck to the windscreen or sat on the dashboard whilst driving, they should not obscure your view.
Similarly, if Police deem you to be distracted by using this device, for example entering your destination while driving, they can convict you of dangerous driving.
You can use a Satnav on your Phone - TRUE
The same rules apply to using a Satnav on your phone as they do when you use a regular Satnav.
If it does NOT obstruct your view and your phone does not require you to use it while driving, then it IS legal. You must set up the Satnav on your phone before departing for a journey & put it in a safe and secure position.
Alcohol can be Open in the Car while Driving - TRUE
It’s LEGAL for passengers to have open alcohol in the car whilst you’re driving.
However, if you’re stopped and you or your passengers have open alcohol then the police will probably breathalyse you if they suspect you’re drink driving. It’s also illegal to drink alcohol as a passenger when supervising a learner driver.
Drinking & Driving - How many can I have?
The short answer is, if you’re driving it’s best not to drink any alcohol. It impacts each individual differently. There is no fool-proof way of drinking and staying under the limit, the same amount could affect two people very differently.
Some things that impact how alcohol affects you are:
- What alcohol you're drinking
- What you've eaten
- Your weight
You Can Drive Barefoot - TRUE
Many people believe driving barefoot is illegal, but it’s not. Having said this, it’s always recommended to wear safe and suitable footwear when driving - this does not include high heels or flip-flops.
Like many of the other myths, should your footwear be deemed responsible for negligent driving then this could be used as prosecution material.
You can have the Internal Light on in the Car while Driving - TRUE
This seems to be quite a common myth but actually, it’s NOT illegal to have internal car lights on whilst driving. However, if the police deem it to be distracting, they have a right to ask you to turn it off.
You can use a Hands-free System - TRUE
Much like eating, drinking, smoking, or using a Satnav, if it is deemed distracting then there could be a penalty for it. The point of a hands-free system is that you should not have to move your hands from the wheel (obviously!). So, if you are using your phone or Satnav while driving then you could receive a fine.
I passed a Speed Camera and it didn't flash, I haven't been caught - FALSE
Not all speed cameras have a flash on them. Some speed cameras use the flash cameras whereas some use an infrared light to determine your speed. You should always be driving at no more than the speed limit. If you pass one while speeding and are not flashed, you may still have been caught.
Useful tips for safer driving
There are a huge amount of ways that you could reduce your chances of being involved in an accident or incident on the roads, with some simpler than others.
We’ve collated a list of some of the easiest methods of safer driving for anybody who gets behind the wheel. See below:
- Set your phone to Do Not Disturb (Driving Mode)
- Alternatively, keep your phone in a bag or in your glovebox, away from your reach
- Set up maps/satnav before you depart
- The same goes for a good music playlist
- Make sure your mirrors are adjusted to your preference before driving
- Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your anticipated location