Driving Laws: How Are They Enforced?

Traffic Signs Driving

In recent reports, Highways England have highlighted the high level of dangerous driving across UK roads, with their latest campaign catching over 4,000 drivers committing driving offences. In light of this, the following is a list of figures and statistics covering various UK road laws, and how they are enforced, as researched by retailer of used vans, Van Monster.

The law

Rule 148: Drivers in England and Wales must not smoke or allow anyone to smoke when in an enclosed private vehicle should someone under 18 be on board.

Potential consequences of breaking the law

A £50 fine.

How well is the law being enforced?

In a Freedom of Information request, 42 English and Welsh police forces responded:

  • Dyfed-Powys Police revealed they had issued four verbal warnings.
  • Metropolitan Police revealed they had issued two verbal warnings.
  • Devon & Cornwall Police revealed they had issued one verbal warning.

None of the 42 English and Welsh police forces had issued according to details of a Freedom of Information request on June 29th 2016.

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The law

Rule 90: Any health condition likely to affect your driving must be reported to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Potential consequences of breaking the law

A £1,000 fine or even prosecution.

How well is the law being enforced?

According to Direct Line Car Insurance, nearly three in ten motorists over the age of 65 years old have medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, eye problems and heart troubles. However, almost half have failed to update the DVLA on these conditions.

Furthermore, an estimated one in four motorists has a ‘notifiable condition’. However, one in ten have failed to keep the DVLA up to date about this.

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The law

Rule 92: Those required to wear either glasses or contact lenses in order to read a vehicle number plate, in good daylight, from a distance of 20 metres (or 20.5 metres when an old style number plate is used) must wear them whenever they are driving.

Potential consequences of breaking the law

A £1,000 fine, three penalty points or a discretionary disqualification.

How well is the law being enforced?

A survey by One Poll involving 1,000 glasses wearers revealed that one in eight drivers who should be wearing glasses while driving admitted to being behind the wheel without them.

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The law

Rule 95: Those in England and Wales must not drive if they:

  1. Have a breath alcohol level higher than 35 microgrammes/100 millilitres of breath, or
  2. Have a blood alcohol level of more than 80 milligrammes/100 millitres of blood.

Potential consequences of breaking the law

Drink-driving penalties come in various guises. They are as follows:

  • If you are found to be in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink, you may receive:
    • 3 months’ imprisonment.
    • A fine of up to £2,500.
    • A possible driving ban.
  • If you are found to be driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink, you may receive:
    • 6 months’ imprisonment.
    • An unlimited fine.
    • A driving ban of at least one year (though this will rise to three years if convicted twice in ten years).
  • If you refuse to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine to be analysed, you may receive:
    • 6 months’ imprisonment.
    • An unlimited fine.
    • A driving ban of at least one year.
  • If you cause death by careless driving and found to be under the influence of drink, you may receive:
    • 14 years’ imprisonment.
    • An unlimited fine.
    • A driving ban of at least two years.
    • The requirement to undertake an extended driving test before your driver’s licence can be returned.

How well is the law being enforced?

The Road Safety Information report released by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in July 2015 revealed:

  • 683,651 roadside breath tests were carried out by England and Wales police forces in 2013.
  • 12 per cent of drivers or riders tested (71,675 of the 683,651) either failed or refused to take the test.

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The law

Rule 96: It is against the law to drive while under the influence of drugs or medicine. In regards to medicine, drivers should consult with their doctor about whether they should drive when prescribed to any of the following drugs:

  • Amphetamine (including Dexamphetamine or Selegiline)
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Methadone
  • Morphine or Opiate and Opioid-based drugs (including Codeine, Tramadol and Fentanyl)
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam

Potential consequences of breaking the law

  • A driving ban that will last for at least one year.
  • An unlimited fine.
  • Up to six months in prison.
  • A criminal record
  • A conviction for drug driving appearing on your driving licence for 11 years.

How well is the law being enforced?

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) released exclusive statistics following a Freedom of Information request regarding all England and Wales police forces revealed more than 400 drug drivers were arrested per month between March and May 2015.

On top of this:

  • The Metropolitan Police made 214 arrests in the period covering March 2nd to May 11th — the highest number of drug-driving arrests recorded in the statistics.
  • Northumbria Police made 97 arrests.
  • Police forces in Cheshire made 70 arrests.
  • Police forces in Sussex made 58 arrests.
  • Police forces in South Yorkshire made 55 arrests.

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The law

Rule 99: A seat belt must be worn in cars, vans and other goods vehicles where they are fitted. Furthermore, a seat belt or child restraint must be used by adults and children aged 14 years and over when seated in buses, coaches and minibuses, where they are fitted.

There are exemptions to this law, which are:

  • Holders of medical exemption certificates.
  • Anyone making deliveries or collections in goods vehicles where they travel less than 50 metres.

Potential consequences of breaking the law

A £100 on-the-spot fine or a maximum fine of £500 if prosecuted.

How well is the law being enforced?

According to the Department for Transport on February 25th 2015, 95.3 per cent of all drivers in England and Scotland were found to use seat belts during research carried out during a period in 2014.

On top of this, it was revealed that:

  • 94.6 per cent of all front seat passengers based in England and Scotland were using seat belts or child restraints.
  • 90.3 per cent of all rear seat passengers based in England and Scotland were using seat belts or child restraints.
  • 98.2 per cent of car drivers based in England and Scotland were using seat belts.
  • 96.7 per cent of car front seat passengers based in England and Scotland were using seat belts or child restraints.
  • 90.6 per cent of car rear seat passengers based in England and Scotland were using seat belts or child restraints.

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The law

Rule 105: Signs used by school crossing patrols must be obeyed (as well as those provided by police officers, traffic officers and traffic wardens).

Potential consequences of breaking the law

Fail to stop when the Stop sign is held upright by a patrol officer in the correct uniform and you could be:

  • Fined up to £1,000.
  • Given three penalty points on your driving licence.

How well is the law being enforced?

One of the most concerning factors is that the number of school crossing patrols (more commonly known as lollipop people) is in decline. According to road safety charity Brake, the number of school crossing patrols has decreased by at least 992 between 2010 and 2014 alone. This is despite the fact that 36 per cent of children aged between five and ten years old walk to school, as well as 38 per cent of kids aged between 11 and 16 years old.

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The law

Rule 109: All traffic light signals and traffic signs giving orders must be obeyed — this includes temporary signals and signs.

Potential consequences of breaking the law

Cross the first stop line when a traffic light is on red and you could be faced with:

  • A £100 fixed penalty.
  • Three penalty points on your driving licence.

How well is the law being enforced?

A Freedom of Information request by insurance firm esure has revealed the top 20 roads where motorists were caught running a red light in 2015. The results are as follows:

Name of road & locationConstabularyNumber of motorists caught running a red light in 2015
A523 The Silk Road, MacclesfieldCheshire Constabulary2,552
A610 Nuthall Island, East Bound, NottinghamNottinghamshire Police1,700
A167 Durham Road (South), GatesheadNorthumbria Police1,543
A56 Great Ducie Street, Junction with Trinity Way, ManchesterGreater Manchester Police1,459
Victoria Street/Crosshall Street, MerseysideMerseyside Police1,458
A34 Kingsway, Junction with Gatley Road, StockportGreater Manchester Police1,349
A635 Manchester Road, Junction with Ashton Hill Lane, TamesideGreater Manchester Police1,314
A556 Chester Road, Junction with Dalefords Lane, SandiwayCheshire Constabulary1,160
A6514 Valley Road / Vernon Road, Basford, Nottingham (N)Nottinghamshire Police1,130
A61 Upper Hanover Street, Junction with Glossop Road, SheffieldSouth Yorkshire Police1,055
A308 Staines Raod West, Junction Chertsey Road, AshfordSurrey Police977
Northway (A59)/ Hall Lane, MaghullMerseyside Police887
Crosby Road South/Cambridge Road, CrosbyMerseyside Police883
A127 Southend Arterial Road, Junction with Progress Road, Leigh-on-SeaEssex Police863
A27 Upper Brighton Road, Junction with Hillbarn Lane, SussexSussex Police789
London Road, OxfordThames Valley Police709
A1018 North Bridge Street (N), SunderlandNorthumbria Police657
A610 Nuthall Island, West Bound, Nottingham (W)Nottinghamshire Police639
A24 Buck Barn crossroads, SussexSussex Police610
Ladymead, Junction Woodbridge Road, GuildfordSurrey Police559

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The law

Rule 124: The maximum speed limit for a road and for a vehicle should never be exceeded. These speed limits are as follows, unless otherwise stated:

Vehicle typeBuilt-up areaSingle carriagewayDual carriagewayMotorway
Cars and motorcycles (car-derived vans up to two tonnes maximum laden weight included)30mph60mph70mph70mph
Cars towing caravans or trailers (car-derived vans and motorcycles included)30mph50mph60mph60mph
Buses, coaches and minibuses (though not exceeding 12 metres in overall length)30mph50mph60mph70mph
Goods vehicles (though not exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight)30mph50mph60mph70mph*
Goods vehicles in England and Wales (when exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight)30mph50mph60mph60mph
Goods vehicles in Scotland (when exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight)30mph40mph50mph60mph

*This speed limit is reduced to 60mph if the goods vehicle is articulated or towing a traler.

Potential consequences of breaking the law

The minimum penalty for a speeding offence is:

  • A £100 fine.
  • Three penalty points on your driving licence.

How well is the law being enforced?

Results from a Freedom of Information Act request to police forces across Britain, LV= car insurance found that each police force recorded an average of 56,080 speeding offences in 2015 – an eight per cent increase year-on-year when compared to 2014 (there were an average of 52,028 speeding offences recorded that year) and a rise of 20 per cent compared to 2013 (when an average of 46,905 speeding offences was recorded).

The Freedom of Information Act request also found the following:

  1. Top five hotspots for speeding in 2015
RoadPolice forceNumber of speeding offences recorded
M6Cheshire Constabulary12,442
M25 Junction 5Kent Police12,330
Scotland Road, LiverpoolMerseyside Police11,760
M6 Toll RoadWarwickshire Police10,858
A358Avon and Somerset Police10,338

 

  1. Fastest drivers caught by police forces in 2015
RoadPolice forceSpeed
A556Cheshire Constabulary147mph
A31Hampshire Constabulary144mph
M25Kent Police142mph
A1Lincolnshire Police142mph
A4146Thames Valley Police142mph

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The law

Rule 141: Unless indicated to do so, you should never drive in a bus lane during its period of operation.

Potential consequences of breaking the law

The initial penalty for breaking this law is an issued fine of £60. This charge is reduced to £30 if payment is made within 14 days of the date of notice, though increased to £90 if a driver has failed to pay the charge within 28 days.

How well is the law being enforced?

Throughout 2014, councils issued at least £30 million in fines and an estimated one million penalties for bus lane infringements, according to a Freedom of Information request made by The Times.

The following table shows the councils which issued the highest number of fines throughout 2014:

CouncilNumber of fines
Glasgow City Council131,238
Birmingham73,534
Manchester77,240
Leeds64,758

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The law

Rule 149: A hand-held mobile phone or similar device must not be used when driving or supervising a learner driver. The only exceptions to this rule is to call 999 or 112 in a genuine emergency when it is either impractical or unsafe to stop.

Potential consequences of breaking the law

An automatic fixed penalty is issued if caught using a mobile device when driving – a £100 fine and three penalty points will be applied to your driving licence. However, if the case goes to court then the maximum fine could be £1,000 and the offender could also be disqualified from driving. Furthermore, those driving goods vehicles or buses are faced with a maximum fine of £2,500.

How well is the law being enforced?

In 2014, around 1.6 per cent of the estimated 36 million drivers on the road in Britain (equivalent to more than 500,000 motorists) were spotted using a hand-held phone while driving, according to figures released by the UK government. This is an increase of the 1.4 per cent recorded when a similar exercise was conducted five years earlier.

This is how the offences were divided up by driver type in England and Scotland on weekdays and moving sites:

  • Van drivers — 2.7 per cent.
  • Car drivers — 1.4 per cent.
  • Lorry drivers — 1.2 per cent.
  • Bus, coach and minibus drivers — 0.4 per cent.

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The law

There are various rules related to parking a vehicle in the UK — see rules 238 to 252 of The Highway Code by clicking here for full details.

Potential consequences of breaking the law

Parking tickets or penalty charge notices are issued depending on the parking of the vehicle and who issues the charge. Generally, you will often have 28 days to pay the charge from the date it was issued, with the fine sometimes reduced by 50 per cent if settled within 14 days. The risk of receiving penalty points on your driving licence in relation to parking offences only applies to certain situations, such as when a vehicle has been left in a dangerous position.

How well is the law being enforced?

After surveying councils across England, The Car People recorded the following statistics regarding the number of parking tickets issued throughout 2014:

  • Greater London — 3,375,513 parking tickets issued. Of these…
    • 355,519 tickets were issued in Westminster.
    • 235,364 tickets were issued in Camden.
    • 217,239 tickets were issued in Islington.
  • South East England — 799,196 parking tickets issued. Of these…
    • 120,463 tickets were issued in Brighton and Hove alone.
  • North West England — 539,078 parking tickets issued. Of these…
    • 276,324 tickets were issued in Greater Manchester alone.
  • South West England — 464,538 parking tickets issued. Of these…
    • 233,816 tickets were issued either in Bristol, Plymouth of Bath.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber — 399,654 parking tickets issued*. Of these…
    • 93,540 tickets were issued in Leeds.
    • 54,425 tickets were issued in Sheffield.
    • 47,359 tickets were issued in Bradford.
  • East England — 329,728 parking tickets issued.
  • West Midlands — 308,498 parking tickets issued.
  • East Midlands — 297,826 parking tickets issued.
  • North East England — 188,251 parking tickets issued.

Sources: