By the end of March 2022, according to data from the RAC Foundation, 33.1 million cars were licensed and on the roads in the UK. With so many of us on the highways every day, even though we don’t like to admit it, we’re likely to develop a bad habit or two.
And while we may be able to say that our bad habits aren’t directly referenced in The Highway Code, they could still result in the loss of control and lead to a fine or worse.
There is a chance that if one of those bad habits causes an accident or results in you being stopped by police, it could be deemed to be in violation of the careless driving codes, which means you could end up with between three to nine unwanted points on your licence for at least four years.
In this article, we’ll go through some of the things you may do on the roads without even realising how dangerous they could actually be. We’ll also offer solutions and alternatives to avoid any fallout.
Preoccupied hands – food, drink, & smoking
On longer drives, there’s every chance you will want a quick refresh while you’re driving. Whether it’s a quick snack, a sip from a bottle or flask, or even smoking, remember that none of these are illegal.
However, smoking, if there are passengers in the vehicle under the age of 18, is a law-breaker.
The main worry with engaging with any of these while you’re driving is that your hands should always be free to engage with the wheel, indicators, wipers, and gearstick. This way, you can react appropriately to the environment and road around you without any threat of incident. Holding bottles or cigarettes could occupy your hands, distract you and take your eyes away from the road putting yourself or others in danger.
The easiest way to avoid getting distracted is the most obvious. Whatever you need, whether it’s a good meal or a quick smoke, do it before getting behind the wheel. Hydrating is one of the more important factors, as a study conducted by Loughborough University found that a loss of concentration by 20% can occur if the driver is dehydrated with even two or three percent hydration being lost.
Headphones in or out?
One of the most important parts of driving is awareness, particularly being able to listen to your own car and hear those around you.
Headphones, while not illegal to wear when driving, could affect awareness – especially if you listen to music at a loud volume or are prone to taking lots of calls that could take your attention away from the road.
If your car has Bluetooth capabilities on the dashboard, it should solve this potential hazard efficiently. Connecting your phone to your car and selecting the music you want to listen to before setting off, as well as listening at a reasonable volume, will help maintain a greater level of awareness behind the wheel.
Flip-flops and footwear
Wearing flip-flops to drive is illegal, right? It’s a myth that has plagued motorists for generations, but it is NOT illegal to drive barefoot or while wearing flip-flops.
A survey by the RAC found that 27% of men and 39% of women in the UK have admitted to driving in flip-flops at some point. This shows that even with the misconceptions of legality, drivers are still willing to take the risk.
There is the danger unsuitable footwear increases the risk of accident – wearing heavy shoes and boots, or those with a taller sole or heel can cause a shift in the ability to brake or grip onto the pedal.
Whether the vehicle you’re driving is a hire car or your own car, if you can safely operate the pedals then you aren’t breaking any laws while driving. It’s sensible to wear appropriate footwear that you feel both comfortable wearing and driving in to avoid any dangers while driving.