Do drivers in the UK really know the rules of the road?

Do drivers chart

As a British citizen you are expected to know all of the laws that control the country. You will never be excused from breaking the law simply for not being aware that the law exists.

The same goes for driving laws in the UK. Many of us assume we know the rules of the road without really investigating. We have conducted a survey to find out the extent of our knowledge (or lack of) when it comes to the rules of the road in the UK.

The results of the survey bring up some questions about whether the laws we have are are doing the best job of protecting drivers and other road users.

When it comes to things like road laws – which have been in place to keep road users and pedestrians safe, there should be no uncertainty about the laws. – something need to be done? Retests and more thorough theory exams.

The hard shoulder

Most of the UK are aware that the hard shoulder is for emergencies only, but 12% of you thought that it would be acceptable to pull over on a hard shoulder if you were tired to sleep and half of those who answered ‘No’ have a full driving license.

West Yorkshire police state that “It wouldn’t be acceptable to pull into the hard shoulder for a rest when tired.  On long journeys a driver should plan their journey to incorporate rest breaks at service stations if needed.

The hard shoulder  on a motorway is a dangerous place and should be used for emergencies only for example when a vehicle is breaking down.”

It’s estimated that 20% of accidents on the road may have been related to driver fatigue. Rather than waiting until you are so tired that you must stop instantly (and therefore use a hard shoulder), if you do start to feel slightly tired, pull into a suitable area to get some rest before carrying on. Source:


Activities Behind the Wheel

We asked which activities drivers and passengers were prohibited from behind the wheel.

Contrary to what many of us think, it’s actually not illegal to drink, eat, smoke or indeed perform any other activity behind the wheel.

However this is not to say that you could not get pulled over and charged for doing any of these things if a police officer thinks that you are driving dangerously as a result of any of these actions.

It is not an offence in itself to smoke, eat or change the CD or radio whilst driving but you could commit the offence of driving without due care and attention. These are some activities that distract driver’s attention from the road. Others include reading maps, talking on a hands-free mobile phone and having very loud music in the car.Distracted drivers are more likely to have/cause accidents.

The majority of us, over 92%, believe that its against the law to drink alcohol behind the wheel and more than half of you think that it’s also illegal to eat behind the wheel.

Surprisingly 61% of you did not think that it was illegal to smoke behind the wheel.

Road traffic accidents in the UK as a result of drink diving are actually fairly low in UK compared to most other parts of the world, and have dramatically decreased since the 80’s. There were around 1,450 deaths in 1980 from drink driving accidents and today there are less than 300, but there are still over 10,000 casualties every year that are a result of drink driving which begs the question of why it is not illegal for drivers to drink behind the wheel.

In most states in America it’s illegal for any driver or passenger to consume alcohol in a motor vehicle, as well as it being illegal to have any open container of alcohol anywhere in a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is being paid for or hired  (e.g. limousines, buses & taxis).

As a driving school, we teach our pupils to keep both hands on the wheel. If they don’t do this on their test day they will fail. Having both hands on the wheel ensures that a driver has a much better chance of regaining control if the car becomes unstable, which can happen if a tyre blows out, or if the driver drives over an obstacle.

Research by the University of Leeds concluded that you are 44% less in control of your vehicle when eating,drinking or smoking behind the wheel. It seems strange that it is commonly known that having two hands on the wheel is the safest way to drive, and yet it’s not against the law to engage in activities that prevent this from happening – including drinking alcohol.

Sources – 4Wheelz Driving Survey Results