21 June 2022
With the mercury set to rise this month, Co-op Insurance is urging drivers to make sure they’re up to date with the Highway Code, and to be aware of seven summer motoring sins that could incur driving licence points, a hefty fine, or even lead to declined insurance claims.
Although the Highway Code alone is not the law, the government says that many of the rules in the Code ‘are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules, you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence, or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison.’
Paul Evans, head of Co-op Motor Insurance, said: “Longer days, warmer temperatures and summer road trips all bring their own unique set of driving challenges, many of which motorists might not typically think of. With the Highway Code having recently introduced a host of new rules, we’d really encourage drivers to make sure their knowledge is fully up to date. But even under the older rules for example, some people might not be aware that on a trip to the seaside a driver who is wearing flip-flops and has their unrestrained dog in the passenger seat could be stopped by the police for a variety of reasons which could lead to points or a fine. If the worst happens and the driver is in an accident, it could also mean their insurance won’t pay out. We’re encouraging drivers to ensure they’re familiar with the motoring rules this summer, so that they don’t unwittingly find themselves out of pocket, on the wrong side of the law, or even hurting themselves or other people.”
The seven summer motoring sins:
- Driving in sliders, flip-flops, or backless shoes: the Highway Code states in Rule 97 that all drivers must have ‘clothing and footwear that do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner’. However, popular summer footwear such as flip-flops, sliders and backless shoes can fall off a driver’s foot and get trapped under the pedals, particularly if feet are hot or wet. This creates a dangerous driving environment and could mean drivers are unable to use their brakes efficiently, so putting themselves, any passengers, and of course other people at risk.
If a driver is in an accident and the police see that they are wearing footwear of this type, or even no shoes at all, they may be found to be "driving without due care and attention".
This offence carries a £100 on-the-spot fine and three penalty points on a driving licence, and, if it goes to court, the maximum penalty could rise to as high as a £5,000 fine, nine penalty points and potentially a driving ban.
- Driving with the wrong sunglasses: fixed-tint sunglasses sold in the UK must come with a filter category number — this will rate the lenses from 0-4. Categories 1, 2, and 3 are all okay for use during daylight hours but could land drivers in trouble if used during hours of poor light, such as dusk. Also, it is illegal while driving to wear category 4 “skiing” sunglasses, as they only transmit between 3% and 8% of light.
What’s more Rule 237 of the Highway Code states you must slow down or pull over if you’re dazzled by bright sunlight.
Anyone flouting this could get an on-the-spot fine of £100 plus three penalty points. However, these fines can increase to £5,000 plus nine penalty points and even a driving ban if the case is taken to court.
- Driving with an unrestrained dog: When it comes to bringing the family hound on holiday, people risk breaching the Highway Code if they drive with an unrestrained pet, as this may distract the driver. In the event of an accident, it could even lead to your insurance not paying out for a claim.
Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that ‘when in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained’. Whilst there’s no direct penalty for breaking the Highway Code, motorists can still be fined up to £5,000 for careless driving if the police find an unrestrained pet in the car.
Touching your phone, satnav, or smartwatch: you might be tempted to change a playlist on your mobile phone or check a notification from your smartwatch but it’s 100% illegal while driving to hold or use a phone, sat nav, tablet, or any device that can send or receive data. Tougher laws introduced in March mean that drivers who break this rule can be penalised with a £200 fine and up to six points on their licence.
Eating an ice-cream at the wheel: whilst a drive out on a sunny day could mean ice-creams all round, avoid enjoying one at the wheel. Rule 148 of the Highway Code states that ‘safe driving…needs concentration’ and motorists should ‘avoid distractions such as…eating and drinking’. If you have an accident and the police judge you to have been distracted, it could mean a hefty fine or points on your licence.
Overloading your car with luggage: whilst an average camping trip can mean a lot of gear to pack, Rule 98 of the Highway Code says drivers must not overload their vehicle. Also, Annex 6 of the Highway Code states that ‘windscreens and windows must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision’, and that you must ensure that ‘items of luggage’ are ‘securely stowed’. What’s more, drivers should be careful that any bicycles or sporting equipment on a rear-mounted rack do not cover the car’s number plate, as this is illegal and could lead to a maximum fine of £1,000.
Not anticipating the quirks of the Great British Summer: even the Highway code acknowledges that the Great British Summer can mean sun one minute and showers the next. Rule 237 states that while driving in hot weather motorists should ‘be aware that the road surface may become soft or if it rains after a dry spell it may become slippery. These conditions could affect your steering and braking’.
The rule also insists that drivers should ‘avoid drowsiness’ by keeping ‘their vehicles well ventilated’, meaning it’s important to use air conditioning or open a window. Anyone ignoring this guidance who then loses control of their car could get a maximum fine of £5,000.
About Co-op Insurance
Co-op Insurance is part of the Co-op, one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance, legal services and health. It has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 1,000 funeral homes and it provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited. It has more than 63,000 colleagues and an annual revenue of over £10 billion.