Last Friday (16th August) changes were made to how police deal with the offence of careless driving, such as middle lane hogging. The big question though is do drivers know how to drive?
It sounds like a silly question. If you’ve passed your test then surely you know the rules to make sure you don’t get penalty points, but that might not be the case. So lets start at the beginning.
What changed on the 16th August 2013?
As of Friday police forces across Britain were given the power to issue £100 fines and three penalty points for offences associated with careless driving. This upped the fine for things like using a phone or not wearing a seatbelt while driving and added to the powers they already possess to penalise serious driving offences with court action and the possibility of much higher fines and penalties.
What are the offences?
According to the BBC‘s report it is expected that police will focus their new powers on the following:
- Driving too close to the vehicle in front
- Failing to give way at a junction (not requiring evasive action by another driver)
- Overtaking and pushing into a queue of traffic
- Being in the wrong lane and pushing into a queue on a roundabout
- Lane discipline, such as needlessly hogging the middle or outside lanes
- Inappropriate speed
- Wheel-spins, hand-brake turns and other careless manoeuvres
What this means for drives
Most simply it means getting out the highway code and reviewing its guidance. For many of us it’s probably been a while since we last took the time to look and things have been updated.
I’m not going to repeat the whole document but here are a few reminders:
- Driving too close to the vehicle in front (tailgating) e.g. Rule 126:
The Highway Code stipulated a two second gap between vehicles on a dry day. Double that if it’s wet/icy. Anything less and it’s at the discretion of the police officer.
- Failing to give way at a junction e.g. Rule 259
A polite reminder…drivers joining a road, via a slip road, do not have priority.
It is up to those joining traffic to fit into the flow. That means match your speed with existing traffic whenever possible, do not force anyone to take evasive action to avoid you and only move out of the slip road or left lane when it is safe to do so.
Should a driver on the motorway change lanes to give joining traffic room then so be it, but they don’t have to.
- Inappropriate Speed e.g. Rule 125
Speed limits alter depending on the road and the vehicle you are driving. Could you confidently state what the speed of a car would be on a single carriageway road with a national speed limit? And what about if you were towing a trailer?
(It’s 60 mph on single carriageway national speed limit roads, for cars. And if you were towing a trailer it’s 50 mph)