Are you a driver? I bet you are breaking the law

It has been announced that driving under the influence of drugs is now to be added to the list of things that a motorist can be prosecuted for.

Most people welcomed the news, imagining that the sight of some “coke-head” bearing down in their rear view mirror is not in their best interests – and they are probably right.

However, things are never as straight forward as we would like and the new law is likely to catch thousands of “innocent” motorists who aren’t even aware of their crime. We are indebted to MSN for pointing out that the number of potential driving offences has grown so much in recent years there is a good chance that most motorists regularly break the law and don’t even know it – yes, that probably includes you.

So, with that in mind, try the Safer Motorways Law-breakers Guide to see how you would score after recent changes to the legislation:

Did you know that driving whilst taking prescription drugs can also lead to a fine if the drug in anyway impairs your driving ability. Thousands of motorists are breaking the law every day by driving whilst taking prescription drugs that they believe are perfectly safe. Any hay fever sufferers out there? Better check the small print on those tablets.

Did you know that warning other drivers of a police speed trap (usually by flashing your headlights) could result in a £500 fine? It is a legal requirement for motorists to be warned that there are speed cameras in place but if you decide to let other drivers know about the threat you face a massive fine for your public spirited efforts. Magistrates have recently fined a Grimsby motorist £440 for doing exactly that.

Did you know that if your number plate is dirty and one or more of the letters or numbers cannot be read clearly you can be fined £1,000?

Did you know that it is illegal to sound your horn whilst stationary (unless it is to warn a moving vehicle of danger)? Also you cannot use your horn at anytime on a residential street between the hours of 11.30 pm and 7.00 in the morning.

Here’s a good one – if you pull over to make or receive a mobile phone call, you may still be considered by the police to be “driving” if you are in the car and still have the engine running – and you could be fined as a result. (No one in the Safer Motorways office got that one right!).

If you change a CD, are caught sipping a drink or eating food, or doing your make-up, this could be considered careless or even dangerous driving and you could be fined or awarded points on your licence.

Being abusive, shouting out of the window or making rude gestures to a another motorist (or indeed pedestrian) can also be classed as careless or dangerous driving with the same consequences.

You are not allowed as a passenger to cradle a baby even if you are wearing a seatbelt yourself. In such circumstances it is actually the driver who is deemed liable and therefore likely to get the fine not the person holding the baby. All children up to the age of eleven must have a booster seat or you can be fined for carrying them in an unsafe manner. So, how often do you carry your children’s mates around and break the law- even though some 11 year olds are taller than the driver?

Driving the “morning-after” with excess alcohol in your blood stream is an offence and prosecutions for this are expected to increase massively over the coming years. Everyone is aware of the drink drive regulations but somehow most people believe that the slate is wiped clean once you have been to bed. Not true. Thousands of motorists are driving to work in the morning whilst still having too much alcohol in their bloodstreams. In fact the alcohol you have consumed the night before may still show up on a breathalyzer test up to 16 hours after your last drink. Amazingly that’s just about the time you would be coming home from work the next day.

Finally, despite endless old wives tales’ to the contrary, we regret to inform you that these days no allowance is made for speedometer error. Driving within 10 per cent of the notified speed limit, for example doing 33 mph in a 30 mph zone, is NOT permitted anymore and many speed cameras have now been set to catch anyone doing 32 mph in a 30 mph zone. You can argue your case as much as you like in court – it won’t do you any good.

We could go on but you get the idea. Many motorists believe that often these fines are more about raising revenue than promoting safety and if you have got three points and a fine for driving at 32 mph rather than 30 mph we can understand your anger. As a safety organisation we are bound to be great supporters of anything that will reduce accidents and save lives. However, even we are starting to wince at some of the stories we read these days.

In a perfect world we can understand the reasoning behind a zero tolerance culture. However, any law abiding motorist who is unlucky enough to be snapped two miles over the speeding limit (don’t tell me you have never done this) will find it difficult to understand why there are so many drivers on the road without tax or insurance and yet they are the ones who have felt the full weight of the law.