Do you believe 5 of the UK's biggest motoring misconceptions?

Do you believe 5 of the UK's biggest motoring miscon­cep­tions?

Every driver on the road has at least a basic under­standing of the Highway Code, even if they don’t always drive like it! But let’s be honest, the vast majority of us aren’t in the habit of referring back to the specific text on a regular basis, and combined with the fact that the law is constantly evolving to close loopholes or adapt to new techno­logies, that can make it easy for some particularly persistent myths to creep in. So before make the final preparations to hire a car or hire a van from us here at Intack, perhaps it’s worth getting yourself “up to speed” on some of the biggest UK motoring myths. 

Exceeding the speed limit is fine when you’re overtaking

Right off the bat, this one’s a bit of a thorny one. Performing an overtake is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres that any driver will have to do behind the wheel, especially if it’s not being done on a motorway or dual carriageway. And realis­ti­cally, there may be a select few instances when an extra spurt of speed might be necessary to get yourself out of danger and complete the manoeuvre safely - for example, to get yourself out of the way of an oncoming car which may have suddenly appeared up ahead. 

But with that said, exceeding the speed limit at any time is very much illegal, and that doesn’t change whether you’re performing an overtake or remaining in single file with other traffic. So if you’ve found yourself having to momentarily hit 80 in order to overtake someone without hitting oncoming traffic, you probably won’t get points with the authorities just because it happened to have been the safest thing to do in that particular moment. Instead, you’ll may well find yourself in hot water for initiating the overtake in the first place, when there was the potential for that kind of danger to develop. 

As with many aspects of life on the road, it’s best to simply drive calmly and conser­vatively, and avoid breaking the speed limit in anything but the most extreme of circum­stances (such as an impending sideswipe from a heavy vehicle like an HGV). 

It’s illegal to have the interior light on while driving

Right, thankfully this one is a little more clear-cut. Most of us know at least one person (indeed, maybe you ARE that person) who has become extremely twitchy at the prospect of the interior light being on while driving. However, there’s no specific law against turning on the interior light while the vehicle is in motion, so it’s not actually illegal in itself. 

The main sticking point is the potential it has for distraction, especially when driving in the dark. The light can easily end up reflecting off the inside of your windscreen, which can make it harder to distinguish from the light of oncoming cars, street-lights and all manner of other visual signals coming through the glass. In short, distraction leads to confusion, and confusion leads to crashes. That’s why, though it’s not actually illegal, it’s still a good idea to keep it to a minimum. If you’re stopped by the police with your interior light on, and they decide that it’s caused you to have been driving while distracted, you could end up in trouble anyway. 

You can’t use your phone as a sat nav

It’s probably no surprise that this one has led to more than its fair share of confusion, given that the law has had to adapt relatively quickly over the last few years to keep up with the rapidly expanding capabilities of smartphones. In actual fact, you can use your phone for navigation, but the law is now very specific in saying that you can’t actually touch it while you do so. 

If you’re going to use in that capacity, then it has to be in a fixed position (i.e. in a cradle designed for the purpose), and it can’t block your view of the road. So you can’t navigate one-handed while holding it up to the steering wheel, or anything even appro­ximating that kind of behaviour. If you need to alter anything on the screen, you can - as long as you’re safely parked up with the engine off. 

All speed cameras have a 10% tolerance

This is another speeding one, and an especially persistent one at that. If you’re not sure what’s meant by tolerance in this context, basically what it’s claiming is that all speed cameras have some wiggle room, so that you can go 10% over the speed limit before they’ll snap you.

Now, while that original statement has a tiny grain of truth in it, it’s still largely a myth. The truth is a little more complex. In a nutshell, this 10% tolerance does technically exist in some areas of the UK, but definitely not in every camera.

Basically, speed camera tolerances vary from region to region, as they’re each set by the local police force - some of whom are a lot stricter than others. There are guidelines, sure, but they’re only meant as a reference point for officers, who can choose whether to act outside them.

And let’s not forget, the whole discussion itself is broadly irrelevant. While one or two drivers might get very lucky occa­si­onally, speeding remains a hugely risky thing to do - not just in terms of the potential legal reper­cus­sions, but also in terms of the very real danger it poses to other road users. Or to put it another way; it ultimately doesn’t matter whether or not speed cameras have tolerances or not. You shouldn’t be testing them anyway! Just stick to the speed limit, and tolerances aren’t something you’ll ever have to worry about. 

It’s illegal to eat or drink behind the wheel

Another “­technically…”. Technically, it’s not illegal, but just as with the interior light above, it’s generally inadvisable. There might not be any specific laws against it, but if you’re driving one-handed, or concen­trating on your food, or otherwise not fully paying attention to the road, then the authorities may well decide that you’re driving while distracted, which means you’ll be subject to all the penalties this kind of offence normally carries. Just as with navigating, it’s far better to park up for a few moments so you can eat in peace, rather than trying to make the best of it while out on the roads. 

And of course, there’s another good reason not to be eating behind the wheel - it can be an absolute nightmare to keep the vehicle clean. That can be a particular problem if you’ve decided to hire a car or van from a company like us here at Intack Self Drive. Just as with any other company, we do require the vehicles to be clean when they’re returned, so just one small lunch could end up causing you a lot more hassle or expense further on down the line. 

If you’re planning on enjoying food out on a proper table though (perhaps in some of the lovely sunshine we’re all having at the moment), then that’s not something you need to worry about. 

And if you’ve got any further questions about the emissions of our cars, or indeed any queries at all, don’t hesitate to give our experts a call. We’ll only be too happy to help you get the best prices when you come to hire a van, car or minibus. Plus if you’re thinking about using your vehicle for something more long-term on the other hand, our Flexi Hire services are designed to give you the very best value on long-term hire. Feel free to explore the details right here on our site, or give us a ring on 01254 57811!

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