In our last article we went into detail to discuss how road travel changes (dramatically) in the summer, with a focus on how peak times change and what you can do to avoid them. Perhaps as a consequence in increased road traffic is the issue is that a lot of people will unintentionally break the law as they are travelling, and this happens more frequently in the summer as more people are on the roads. Of course, we’re not talking about speeding or driving whilst under the influence, as most people are educated enough nowadays to undersatnd, if not abide by, these legal and social taboos.
The recent hot weather will have resulted in the need for people in the UK (yes, the U.K!) to drink more fluids in order to stay hydrated. But you may not be aware that drinking (and also eating) whilst driving is a very blurry line in the eyes of the law, as police can prosecute you for not being in complete control of your vehicle. So, sipping on cold water during your journey could potentially land you in hot water! However, since there has been a medical need to stay hydrated, if there is a safe place to pull over so you can have a soft drink then this is what you should do. In theory, even taking your hands off the wheel whilst stationery in traffic to swig from a bottle or to lift a sandwich is enough for a fine. Furthermore, if you need to pull over on the hard shoulder of a Motorway (note, you can not legally pull over on the hard shoulder in order to eat or drink unless it is a medical emergency) and have dogs in the car, you can get in trouble if they’re not correctly restrained. If not, you could be facing a £100 fine!
Another way in which people can unintentionally break the law whilst heading to their summer destination is by using ones mobile phone as a satellite navigation system when it isn’t properly fixed. If it’s fixed to your windscreen or dashboard then the law generally agrees that this is acceptable, but if it’s just in the cup holder or – worse – if you’re holding it, then you could receive a whopping six points on your license plus a £200 fine!
One that catches a lot of people out is paying using your mobile at a drive through restaurant. With mobile payments now gaining in popularity, and more and more people having staycations, long journeys on our summer travels can make us feel peckish, so you may want to stop off at a fast food chain or coffee shop and pick up something to eat/drink. However, this goes back to using your phone. It is illegal to be using your phone when it is not fixed whilst driving. You may think – but I’m not actually driving – but if the engine is on and your handbrake is not applied, then you technically still are. Just switch everything off (when safe and legal to do so) before you pick up your phone…or let a passenger do this for you.