As we set out on our summer excursions whether visiting friends and relatives or family days out, it is worth dispelling a few myths about cars on the road……
1. It’s illegal to eat whilst driving
It’s actually not illegal to eat when driving, but anything that prevents you from keeping your attention on the road could see you being pulled over for careless driving. (including applying lipstick!)
2. Not all speed cameras flash
You can’t rely on this as a gauge to tell you if a camera is working or not. Many cameras use infra-red, so there is no need to use a flash!
3. There is a 10 per cent discretion if you break the speed limit
A lot of people think that breaking the speed limit by 10 per cent or less will not result in prosecution, but this is not the case! Remember you are up against a computer (whether motorway camera, GATSO or speed camera), so if you are going over the speed limit, it will catch you. Speed camera’s are present to reduce accidents, so it is best to stay within the limits rather than risk penalty points.
A car’s speedometer is allowed to over read (so you could think you are doing 66mph when you’re only travelling at 60mph), but they are not allowed to under estimate your speed.
4. It’s illegal to drive barefoot
It’s not illegal to drive barefoot, or with wellies or flip flops, but the Driving Standards Agency strongly discourages this, issuing the following advice: “Wear sensible clothing for driving, especially on a long journey. Suitable shoes are particularly important. We also would not recommend driving barefoot because you don’t have the same braking force with bare foot as you do with shoes.”
The right footwear can make all the difference to your driving safety. Leave the dressy shoes aside whilst driving… it ruins them anyway and it could save your life!
5. It is illegal (and dangerous) to use your phone at a petrol station
The truth is that the use of mobile phones is probably more dangerous as a source of distraction than as the possible source of an explosion. According to a report from the Petroleum Equipment Institute, there are no documented incidents at petrol stations related to fires or explosions caused by the use of mobile phones. Like other distractions, it is best to keep these at a minimum when moving vehicles are around.
6. Furry dice could cause your car to fail its MOT
Any obstruction in your field of vision wider than four centimeters can actually cause your car to fail its MOT.
7. I can have a pint and a half and still drive
Alcohol doesn’t just impede your coordination and sight, but also your judgement, reaction time and alertness. Safe driving after drinking is hard to measure as it depends on the alcohol content of the drink, your size, weight, age, last time you ate, etc. One size doesn’t fit all, and if you are unsure it is best to organise a taxi!
8. It is not an offence to use your mobile phone if you are stationary
This is probably the most common mistake people make. Even if you have been stuck in a traffic jam without moving for hours, if your engine is on and you use your mobile, you are committing the offence of using your mobile phone while driving – that’s three points and a fine.
9. A battery will recharge after a jump start in only a few minutes of driving
It can take hours of driving to give the battery a full charge, especially in the winter. Heated seats, music systems, and other accessories draw so much power that the alternator has little left to recharge the battery. You can check to see if the battery will still hold a charge at your local garage who will conduct a battery load test.
10. Always visit a main franchised dealership for regular maintenance
There is no requirement for you to return to a main dealer for regular servicing. Many drivers save money by taking their car to a reputable independent garage (look for one who have an association with a regulatory body). This won’t invalidate your warranty as long as genuine or OE (original equivalent) parts are used.
11. Is it illegal to drive with fog lights when it’s not even foggy?
Rule 226 of the Highway Code states that ‘the front and rear fog lights should only be used when visibility is low, when you can see no further than 100 metres (328 feet) ahead of your vehicle.” If the fog lights are on when visibility is greater than 100 metres, you could be masking the brake lights and thus cause an accident.
12. Just change lanes to avoid being caught by average speed cameras..
Cameras log your registration plate on any of the cameras on the gantry and measure your average speed when you get to the next one. Average speed is what is measured, not your speed when you get to the camera and changing lanes makes no difference.
13. I can take my car to the garage to get the light turned off
If there is a warning light on your dashboard, it is there for a reason. A reputable garage will check to see what the underlying issue is. It would be irresponsible to turn a light off and let the driver drive away in a potentially dangerous car.
14. Diagnosing a fault is easy, it takes Garages 5mins to hook the car up to a computer
Garages do use a computer to diagnose the problem area, but it takes the skill of an experienced Technician to identify the exact fault. The computer tells the Technician what is at fault, not why it is failing. The majority of faults cannot be diagnosed over the phone, so a reputable garage will only quote you for work once they have seen the car.
Myths develop over time and a bit like Chinese whispers, the original message gets diluted and changed. Legislation changes and technology becomes more sophisticated.
If in doubt, it is always best to go to the original source to check if it is right or keep
to what you know is true.