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Driving laws you (probably) didn't know existed

From blaring music, splashing pedestrians and wearing sandals, these things could land you in trouble

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Whether you've recently passed your test or got your licence years ago, you'll know there are plenty of rules that make up the Highway Code.

Things such as wearing a seatbelt and not going through a red light are etched into our memories from our driving lessons, but other more obscure rules may not be quite as memorable.

Here are some of the driving laws in the UK and across Europe that you may have forgotten or not be aware of.

Splashing pedestrians

In the UK, rainy days are sadly all too familiar, and this leads to puddles forming on our roads.

It may surprise some people, but splashing a pedestrian and leaving them soaking wet – maliciously or not – is an offence.

And although avoiding puddles can be tricky, under section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, splashing a passer-by with your car amounts to careless and inconsiderate driving.

If caught by the police, you can expect to receive at least a £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence. The maximum fine is £5,000.

Test your brakes after driving through water

On the topic of wet conditions, rule 121 of the Highway Code says that drivers should test their brakes after driving through puddles or standing water.

In fact, water can hinder the effectiveness of your brakes, so it’s always worth checking that they’re working properly.

If they’re not, apply light pressure to the pedal as you drive slowly to dry out your brakes.

Swearing and rude gestures

According to the RAC, 43% of UK motorists have been the victim of road rage, with female drivers experiencing more incidents than males.

Angry drivers can create a dangerous, unsafe environment for everyone, so it’s no wonder there are fines in place to deter road rage.

Motorists who curse, swear or make rude gestures to fellow drivers can be sanctioned for disorderly conduct, landing a penalty of £1,000 and three points.

Warning other motorists about speed cameras

Being a good Samaritan doesn’t always pay off. Warning other motorists about speed traps ahead can get you in the same situation you’re helping them avoid – a pricey fine.

By flashing your lights at fellow drivers to inform them about speed traps, you’re obstructing a police officer in their duty, which could cost you up to £1,000.

Pets and breakdowns

If you’re taking your pet for a ride, there are a few regulations you need to keep in mind.

For example, rule 57 of the Highway Code says that when in a vehicle, dogs and other animals have to be restrained to avoid distracting the driver and causing potential injuries.

A lesser-known law is that in the event of a car breakdown, pets can’t exit the vehicle with their owners.

Instead, drivers must leave their animals in the vehicle or, in an emergency, keep them on the verge on a short lead. If you don’t comply with this rule, you could face a penalty of up to £2,000.


Choice of shoe

Rule 97 of the Highway Code points out that when at the wheel, you should wear clothes and shoes that don’t prevent you from correctly using the controls.

Wearing footwear such as flip-flops, sandals, high heels and wellies might lead to a £100 on-the-spot fine and three points if the police feel you haven’t conformed to Rule 97. If the case goes to court, the penalty may even rise to £5,000.

Driving barefoot isn’t illegal, but we’d always recommend having comfy shoes on your feet – for everybody’s safety.

Loud music

Listening to music in your car can help you relax and make the trip more enjoyable. But turning the radio up to an excessive volume can put you at risk of hefty fines.

According to the Road Vehicles Regulations 1986, loud music can cause distractions to you and fellow drivers.

Not only that, but it can also prevent you and others from hearing emergency vehicles' sirens.

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Driving laws across Europe

If you have an upcoming road trip around Europe, it’s worth checking other countries’ regulations.

Most driving laws will be similar to UK rules, but some can catch you off-guard.

Here are a few of the most obscure:

Carry spare glasses – In Spain, France and Switzerland, anyone wearing glasses needs to have a spare pair in the car when driving. If you don’t, you could be fined.

No sipping water – If you’re driving around Cyprus, you are banned from drinking water at the wheel. Likewise, you’re not allowed to eat and snack on treats.

Reverse with hazard warning lights – To keep roads in Slovenia safe, you’re required by law to put your hazard warning lights on when reversing.

Have a breathalyser at hand – As a driver, it’s your responsibility in France to check your blood alcohol content, and you should always carry a breathalyser in your car.

Pack a fire extinguisher – If you’re travelling through Belgium, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, you need to have an extinguisher in your boot. Also, if pulled over in Estonia, you must have blocks of plastic or wood in your car. These must be put under your wheels to avoid your vehicle rolling backwards on a steep hill.

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