Common Motoring Offences UK

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Young drivers aged 16-25 are some of the most likely motorists to commit a driving offence, according to new figures from the DVLA. Moneyshake’s FOI (Freedom Of Information) request sent to the agency revealed that 80,000 motoring offences in the last year alone were committed by young drivers.

The data also revealed that five common motoring offences committed by young drivers are:

  1. Speeding on a public road.
  2. Speeding on a motorway.
  3. Driving while using a mobile phone.
  4. Driving without due care and attention.
  5. Using a vehicle with defective tyres.

All the offences above are punishable with a fixed penalty notice (FPN) and licence points that could result in it being revoked if you’re still within two years of passing your driving test. Have no fear, because we’ve put together a guide on how to avoid committing all of these offences.

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1. Speeding on a public road

common motoring offences speeding 2

Minimum penalty: £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence, or you may be given the option to attend a speed awareness course (as long as you haven’t been on one in the past three years).

Maximum penalty: A £1,000 fine and be disqualified from driving or have your licence suspended. If you’re still within the first two years of passing your test, your driving licence can be revoked if you get six or more penalty points.

What does the law say?

You can be caught speeding on a public road by a speeding camera or by the police.

In the case of the former, you’ll be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution and a Section 172 notice asking for the identity of the driver at the time the offence was committed. This notice needs to be returned within 28 days of being received and needs to have the driver’s identity in there, otherwise you can be taken to court.

You’ll either be sent an FPN or a letter telling you to go to court in return.

If you’re stopped by the police, you can be given a verbal warning, handed an FPN on the spot (or sent one in the post) or be sent a letter ordering you to go to court.

Pleading guilty to an FPN means that you’ll need to pay the minimum £100 fine or attend a speed awareness course. On the other hand, if you plead not guilty then you’ll need to attend a court hearing.

Remember: If your case does go to court, you may be at risk of more serious punishment. For example, you could receive more penalty points (i.e. six or nine, instead of the minimum of three), be fined up to £1,000, and even be disqualified from driving or have your licence suspended.

4 ways to avoid speeding on a public road

common motoring offences public road speed limit

Speeding is the most common motoring offence in the UK, with a recent analysis of driving offences revealing that it’s increased by five per cent each year since 2011 and that 15.9 million speeding offences have occurred in this time too.

Young drivers aren’t exempt from this rule either, with 58.72% of the 80,000 offences committed by this age bracket concerning speeding on a public road.

Despite it being a common wrongdoing for new motorists, there are several ways you can keep your speed under control when you’re out and about. Here’s 4 of our top tips for avoiding speeding:

  1. Keep your eyes peeled for speed signs – this is especially true when you’re joining a new road, as it’s likely that the speed limit will change to reflect the nature of the area where you’re driving. If you have a modern vehicle or you’ve purchased an advanced sat nav, you may have a speed sign recognition feature that can automatically help you identify changing speed limits as you’re driving.
  2. Select a lower gear when going downhill – selecting a higher gear while travelling downhill will increase your speed rapidly, which may result in you having to use the brakes heavily in order to avoid speeding. A better way to keep your car at a safe speed is to choose a lower gear in order to activate the engine’s braking system. This will keep your car under control and prevent your car’s brakes from overheating too.
  3. Use a speed limiter (if your car has one) – most modern cars come with a speed limiter that will prevent you from accelerating past a certain speed that you set. These are particularly effective if you know that your journey is predominantly in one zone (i.e. local 30mph loads or a national speed limit motorway journey).
  4. Give yourself plenty of time to travel – find out how long your journey takes and add an extra 20-30 minutes leeway (sometimes you may want to add more if it’s a particularly long journey, or you’re travelling on busy roads at a popular time). If you’re less stressed about making it to your destination on time, it’s less likely that you’re going to wind up speeding.

2. Speeding on a motorway

common motoring offences speeding

Minimum penalty: £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence (or you could be given the option to attend a motorway awareness course if you haven’t already been on one in the past three years).

Maximum penalty: £2,500 fine and/or a ban from driving if you exceed 100mph.

What does the law say?

Motorways have a national speed limit of 70mph and the law states that anything above this is considered speeding. However, most police forces use a tolerance of 10% plus 2mph that allows a bit more leeway to prevent people from staring at their speedometer, which could easily cause an accident itself.

This means that a camera wouldn’t flash on a motorway unless you were driving at 79mph or above.

Things get a bit more complex with the introduction of smart motorways. These modern high-speed roads have sections with variable speed limits (i.e. 50mph down from 70mph) that are intended to manage traffic to avoid congestion. More cameras are placed here so it’s important that you don’t break this ‘buffer zone’ speed limit when you’re driving through these areas, otherwise you risk being fined or banned depending on how fast you’re travelling.

4 ways to avoid speeding on a motorway

common motoring offences motorway speed limit

Speeding – whether it’s on a public road or a motorway – can be avoided by practicing these 4 things:

  1. Use cruise control and/or a speed limiter – like we mentioned earlier, most modern cars are fitted with cruise control with a speed limiter, or a speed limiter alone. By activating this* and setting your speed limit at 70mph, you can maintain a safe and legal speed.
    1. *Remember that on a smart motorway you’ll need to be prepared to deactivate cruise control (you can do this easily by pressing on the brake pedal) if you come to a temporary speed limit zone.
  2. Regularly keep an eye on your speedometer – it’s not safe to stare at your speedometer as you won’t be able to see where you’re going. Nevertheless, you should check your speedometer roughly every couple of minutes for an accurate indication of how fast you’re going and to ensure you aren’t speeding.
  3. Give yourself plenty of time – motorways can be a very busy place to travel at peak times (i.e. mornings and early evenings) so it’s important that you give yourself enough time to get to your destination comfortably. This is why you should have a good idea of how long it takes to reach where you’re travelling to and add in extra time as a cushion so that you aren’t inclined to get caught speeding in a rush to get where you need to be on time.
  4. Don’t have your music volume set too loud – according to research by the South China University of Technology, listening to loud and fast-tempo music could increase your speed by 5-10mph, potentially enough to cause you to speed. So, you should consider creating a calmer atmosphere in your car when driving in order to reduce the likelihood of you speeding.

3. Driving while using a mobile phone

Common motoring offences texting while driving

Minimum penalty: Six penalty points on your licence and £200 fine for using a hand-held phone while driving. You’ll have your licence revoked if you’ve passed your driving test within the last two years. You can also get three penalty points if you don’t have full view of the road/traffic ahead or control of your vehicle.

Maximum penalty: If the matter is taken to court, you could be banned from driving and/or get a maximum fine of £1,000. If you’re driving a lorry or a bus, this rises to £2,500.

What does the law say?

According to current UK laws on mobile phone use while driving, the only times that you can go on your hand-held device at the wheel are:

  • When you’re safely parked.
  • When you need to make an emergency call to 999 or 112 and it’s unsafe/impractical to stop (i.e. there’s no lay-by or area to pull over on the road you’re driving on and stopping could cause an accident).

Hands-free devices such as a Bluetooth headset, voice control infotainment system or windscreen mount are okay to use. However, any phone holder on the dashboard or windscreen mustn’t obstruct your view of the road.

You can still be stopped by police and punished for using your mobile phone/sat nav while you’re stationary at traffic lights or queueing in traffic.

5 ways to avoid mobile phone use while driving

common motoring offences do not disturb

Using a mobile phone or being distracted by your hand-held device, sat nav or infotainment system can be extremely dangerous to both yourself and those around you.

Here are five tips to effectively avoid the temptation of using your phone while you’re behind the wheel:

  1. Turn your phone off/put it on ‘do not disturb’ mode before starting your journey.
  2. Stow it away in a glove box/cubby holder where you can’t see or hear it – this way it’s unlikely that you’re going to be distracted by it or be tempted to touch it.
  3. Invest in a hands-free device (if your car hasn’t got one already) such as a Bluetooth headset or an infotainment system that’s compatible with a mobile phone. If you want a car that comes as standard with smartphone mirroring fitted, check out our other blog post about all cars with Android Auto, or if you use Apple products then you can find an up-to-date list of all models fitted with Apple CarPlay here.
  4. If you need to use your phone in case of an emergency or another important matter, wait until you can safely pull into a lay-by, car park or other safe space beforehand.
  5. Should you be using a mount on your dashboard/windscreen for your mobile phone, make sure it’s positioned somewhere that doesn’t block your vision of the road/traffic ahead.

4. Driving without due care and attention

common motoring offences tiredness can kill sign

Minimum penalty: Between 3-9 penalty points on your licence or a disqualification.

Maximum penalty: You may also face a fine of up to £2,500 depending on how severe the incident is.

What does the law say?

Common things considered ‘careless’ while you’re driving are tailgating, skipping a red light, overtaking on the inside and turning into the path of another vehicle.

A prosecutor will have to prove that your driving fell below the expected level of a competent driver if you’re to be found guilty of driving without due care and attention.

Aggravating factors that can affect whether or not you receive just penalty points, a disqualification and/or a fine include tiredness, being distracted while driving and causing injury/damage to others or their property.

3 ways to avoid driving without due care and attention

common motoring offences driving hazards

Avoiding a careless driving charge is all about knowing what to do to keep safe while you’re in charge of your car.

Here are three ways you can ensure you don’t fall below the expected standard of driving while you’re out on the road:

  1. Make sure you’re well-rested before driving – if you’re showing signs of tiredness (e.g. yawning, blurred vision, lack of concentration) then it’s probably best arranging an alternative form of transport or avoiding travel all together if your journey isn’t essential.
  2. Reduce the amount of possible distractions in your car – for example, turning your phone off/switching it to ‘do not disturb’ mode, turning down the volume of alerts on your media/sat nav system and politely asking any passengers not to divert your attention from driving.
  3. Pay extra attention to potential hazards in the road, especially on unfamiliar roads where you might not expect them. This will reduce your chances of being caught driving with excessive speed, especially in areas where there’s temporary road works and you have to adjust your speed in order to keep safe.

5. Using a vehicle with defective tyres

common motoring offences defective tyres

Minimum penalty: £100 fine and three points on your licence for each tyre.

Maximum penalty: If circumstances (i.e. you’re a repeat offender) require your case to be taken to a magistrates’ court, you could be fined up to £2,500 and you could be disqualified.

What does the law say?

You could be considered to have defective tyres if any of your car’s tyres:

  • Aren’t suitably inflated to make it fit for the way the vehicle is being used.
  • Have a cut on them that’s in excess of 25mm.
  • Feature any lumps, tears or bulges caused by failure of the tyre’s structure.
  • Have the cord/ply exposed.
  • Don’t have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band measuring at least three quarters of the breadth of the tread.

4 ways to avoid using a vehicle with defective tyres

tyre pressure check

Because your car’s tyres are the only part which comes into contact with the road, it’s very important that you keep on top of maintenance for them – not just to avoid punishment by the law, but also to ensure your vehicle’s safety.

Follow these 4 steps to keep your tyres in a condition that’s legal and safe:

  1. Check your tyre pressure every couple of weeks and before every long journey – find out more about how to do this properly in our car maintenance checklist guide.
  2. Use a 20p coin to check your tyres’ tread depth – insert a 20p coin into the tread on each of your tyres to ensure they comply with the legal minimum requirement of 1.6mm. The bottom of the coin should be obscured where you’ve inserted it, otherwise they may need replacing to avoid a fine.
  3. Inspect the condition of your tyre walls and rims every couple of weeks for any defects (e.g. tears, lumps, bulges and uneven wear). If you spot anything that doesn’t look right, contact your local approved garage to have them checked.
  4. Have a full service each year – servicing may be a requirement if your car is more than three years old and doesn’t pass its MOT. However, your tyres may just meet the legal requirements and be flagged as an advisory to keep an eye on. For this reason it’s important that you have a full service at least once a year (preferably before your MOT is due) to ensure your tyres are always in a safe and legal condition.

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Want to discover more information on how to keep safe while out on the road? Then check out our other road safety guides for everything you need to know about risk-free motoring.