The laws, legislation and guidelines by which we navigate UK roads are constantly under review and subject to change, as they attempt to meet the needs of an ever-changing transport landscape.
The Highway Code recently changed to recognise new rights of way for pedestrians, while the government announced new laws to make way for autonomous vehicles. But headline-making gimmicks aside, what are some lesser-known laws that every motorist should know?
Puddle Splash, or Public Nuisance?
It is a scene resembling that of a comedy farce: pedestrians stood in line at a bus stop in rainy weather, only to get drenched as a passing car ploughs through a nearby puddle. While this is might sometimes be a source of mirth for certain ill-intentioned motorists (despite being a day-ruining event for pedestrians of any stripe), it could also be an illegal one. Laws regarding careless or inconsiderate driving are intentionally vague, encompassing any manoeuvres that occur ‘without reasonable consideration for other persons’.
Driving in Snow
The same law could also apply to specific instances in cold-weather conditions – particularly snowy ones. There are drivers amongst us content with clearing only their windows and mirrors before setting off, leaving banks of snow on their car bonnet and roof. There is nothing inherently illegal about this, but doing so poses the risk of snow shifting from the roof to cover your windscreen. This could lead to you driving, again, ‘without reasonable consideration for other people’.
Safe Tyre Treads
Speaking of cold weather, the winter months pose new challenges to drivers in the form of inclement conditions. Icy roads and water tables can make for adverse driving conditions and illustrate all the more the importance of traction.
Indeed, there is year-round law stipulating the minimum amount of traction a car must possess, expressed in the form of tyre tread depth. If your tyre treads measure less than 1.6mm deep, you must replace your tyres for a new set, whether you buy tyres online to install at home or have a mechanic replace them on your behalf.
No Phones Behind the Wheel
Lastly comes a relatively new law, which still catches out motorists who have failed to keep up with shifting legislation. The ban on phone use while driving has been in place for some years now, but expanded in early 2022 to become much stricter. Now, drivers are no longer allowed to hold a phone or GPS device at all when driving. If you have a habit of grabbing your phone to change your music playlist or check your travel route while driving – even if when idling at a red light – you could be risking points, a fine and even a driving ban.