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9 things people do on the road that you didn’t know were illegal

Whether you’re a driver or motorcyclist who passed their test decades ago or you’re an excited new driver who can’t wait to start spending time on the roads independently, every driver knows that they are breaking the law if they drive faster than the speed limit or they run a red light.

These types of offences are common knowledge and things that many non-drivers are also aware of too.

Whilst some laws are clearly outlined, there are others that are not so well known that are also illegal, in fact, some people may commit these offences regularly without even knowing that they are committing an illegal act.

Here are 9 ways that you can break the law as a motorcyclist or driver on the roads in the UK.

1. Flashing your lights to give way

Drivers and motorcyclists flashing their lights to signal to other road users that they can pass safely is a common daily occurrence on UK roads.

But, did you know that it could technically be deemed an offence if an accident happened because of driver flashing their lights?

The Highway Code states in section 110: “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.”

Flashing your lights can be particularly dangerous if it is in the face of a motorcyclist as the glare on a motorcyclist’s helmet visor can cause blind spots and potentially cause a motorcycle injury.

So next time you reach for the beams beware of the potential consequences.

2. Using your mobile phone as a sat nav

Satellite navigation has become ingrained in many driver’s daily lives and the technology has developed dramatically since its conception.

Almost every person has their own sat nav built into their mobile phone, but using it in your car could be illegal if you don’t adhere to the law.

In order to use a mobile phone as a sat nav whilst driving it must be fixed to your car’s windscreen or dashboard in a place that will allow you to see it without it impeding your view of the road.

If you are caught breaching these rules you could face a £200 fine and up to 6 points on your license, which, if you are a new driver who has had their license for less than 2 years could result in a ban.

3. Using your horn incorrectly

It’s the sound of road rage everywhere, but did you know that tooting your horn in anger is actually illegal.

Whilst all drivers are taught to sound their horn when going around blind bends or when they are going over narrow bridges to alert other road users of their presence, using your vehicle’s horn for any other reason can be classed as an offence.

This is highlighted in The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. The Highway Code also explains that tooting your horn in a built-up area between 11:30pm and 7am is illegal unless you need to do so in an emergency.

So next time you’re feeling frustrated in a traffic jam or you’re thinking about tooting your horn as you wave goodbye at the start of an early morning drive, you might want to reconsider.

4. Splashing pedestrians with puddles

Living in the UK you’re never too far away from a puddle. Sudden heavy rainfall and a blocked drain lead to a build-up of water near footpaths across the country and it’s inevitable that you will have to drive through a puddle near pedestrians at some point.

What you may not know is, splashing pedestrians with your vehicle is against the law. If you do splash a pedestrian by travelling through a puddle at speed, you can get a fixed penalty notice, and in some cases, a public order offence may also be handed out if it’s deemed that you deliberately targeted pedestrians.

5. Sleeping in your car after you’ve had one too many

If you’ve driven to the pub, then you quite rightly shouldn’t be getting behind the wheel afterwards.

If you’ve had one too many and have nowhere to stay you may consider sleeping in the car until you’ve sobered up.


Even if you have no intention of operating the vehicle you are sleeping in, you could still face a ‘drunk in charge’ fine.

Sleeping in your car when inebriated is an offence under section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and could result in you also facing a jail term and up to 10 penalty points on your license.

6. Smoking in your car

If you are a smoker the urge to light up a cigarette is one that you have frequently, but if you are driving a car it could spell disaster.

As of October 2015, it’s been illegal to smoke in a car if there is a passenger under the age of 18.

This law not only affects the driver directly but as a driver is responsible for every passenger inside their car if another passenger smokes a cigarette and there is a passenger under the age of 18 in the vehicle the driver will be fined for their actions.

7. Not keeping your number plate clean

When operating a vehicle the number plate should be clearly visible at all times.

Even if you’ve been driving on country lanes and your number plate becomes obscured, it’s your responsibility to ensure it’s clean and visible.

Failing to do so means you are breaking the law and could face legal consequences if you are caught.

8. Overtaking at a pedestrian crossing

If you’re on a multi-lane road and you see a car or motorbike stationary at some lights even though they are on green, the temptation can be to switch lanes and overtake them.

If you do this you are committing an illegal offence.

You must not overtake the car nearest the pedestrian crossing as they could be concealing a pedestrian who has begun to cross the road.

9. Parking on the wrong side of the road at night

Some may think that drivers shouldn’t park on the wrong side of the road because it makes it difficult to park or pull out of the parking space, however, this isn’t the reason that it is illegal.

According to Rule 248 of the Highway Code, The real reason is that drivers run the risk of dazzling other road users.

Not only will you dazzle other road users, but your rear lights will also not be visible momentarily if you have to turn your vehicle around, increasing the risk of a road traffic accident.

Committing several of the offences that we have outlined above could put other drivers and motorcyclists at real risk, increasing the likelihood of a road traffic accident and potentially causing a catastrophic injury.

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident or a road traffic accident involving another vehicle our specialist team can help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Our personal injury and large loss teams have a wealth of experience in the RTA area of law and will handle your claim with consideration and care, ensuring you are informed at each stage of the compensation claim process.

If you’d like to speak to one of our solicitors you can call us for free today on 0800 1979 345 or you can request a call back by completing our online form by clicking here.