Driving is an activity that most Britons do every day, and there are a myriad of laws, rules and regulations that must be followed. Many of these laws are frequently broken, and roughly 250,000 motorists are disqualified from driving each year in the UK. Around a quarter of current drivers have a driving conviction on their record.
Being found guilty of many offences will simply mean accruing penalty points on your licence and incurring a fine, but sometimes drivers may face an instant ban. Below are ten of the most commonly committed driving offences by British motorists.
Speeding is by far the most common driving offence committed in the UK. There is a range of different penalties and fines that can be applied, depending on the severity of the offence.
Research has shown that around half of British motorists admit speeding on the motorway, while around a third are guilty of committing the offence in built-up areas.
Exceeding the speed limit contributes to roughly a quarter of road fatalities each year. There are around 5,000 speed cameras in the UK, and this number is increasing with new cameras being installed all the time.
Despite being one of the most serious driving offences that can be committed, over 100,000 UK drivers fail roadside drink-driving breath tests each year. There are also over 3,000 drink-driving-related incidents reported each year.Being found guilty of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol can result in thousands of pounds worth of fines, a driving ban, and even prison time.
Driving whilst talking on the phone
The Road Safety Act 2006 made hand-held use of a mobile phone while driving illegal. A penalty could land you with three points on your license and a maximum £1,000 fine. Even holding a mobile phone whilst in charge of a vehicle could see you issued with penalty points and a £60 fine.
Over half a million motorists are still reportedly breaking this law, despite the growing number of accidents and deaths caused as a result.
Driving without insurance
Driving without insurance is considered to be one of the more serious motoring offences that you can commit, due to the financial implications for insurers and for other drivers. The maximum penalties are severe: 8 penalty points, a £5,000 fine and disqualification.
Research from 2014 suggested that many motorists actually knowingly drive without insurance, because any fines they may incur are far cheaper than paying for insurance premiums.
Careless or dangerous driving
Careless and dangerous driving can encompass elements of a number of other motoring offences – for instance, driving well in excess of the speed limit or drink-driving limit, or driving without a licence.
Careless driving also includes offences such as tailgating or overtaking poorly, which many drivers may not recognise as a chargeable offence.
Failing to report or stop after an accident
Two other commonly committed motoring offences are failing to stop after an accident, and failing to report it afterwards. While the most obvious scenarios that spring to mind involve pedestrians and other moving vehicles, this offence includes even seemingly minor incidents, for example scratching a parked car whilst manoeuvring.
Failing to stop and failing to report are two separate offences, but drivers are often prosecuted for both simultaneously, incurring up to 10 licence penalty points and fines of up to £2,500.
This driving offence is becoming increasingly common in the UK, with over 8,000 arrests made for drug-driving-related crimes last year alone.
Recently, new laws were introduced that brought in limits for a number of different types of illegal and prescription drugs. The number of drug-driving arrests is rising partly because of this, and a lack of awareness around it.
Failing to provide
This offence involves being unable to or refusing to provide a breath, blood or urine sample when asked to by a police officer. A police officer must have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect that you are over the prescribed limit before making any requirement.
Some motorists may be unable to provide a sample for health reasons, and can be wrongly convicted of failing to provide.
In charge whilst unfit
It’s common knowledge that driving a vehicle whilst over the prescribed limit is illegal. What is perhaps less well-known is that being ‘in charge’ of a vehicle whilst over the prescribed limit is also a criminal offence.
Whether you were in charge of a vehicle will depend on the individual circumstances of the offence. Being in control of a vehicle may be enough to warrant a charge, even if you had no intention of driving the vehicle.
Failing to comply with signs and signals
Failing to stop at traffic lights (i.e. going through on red), failing to stop fully at stop signs, ignoring road markings such as white and yellow lines and disobeying the rules of a school patrol crossing are just some of the more common road traffic signs and signals that motorists ignore.