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Common driving law myths busted

We expose some widely-held misconceptions about what’s legal and what isn’t while driving. 

Investigator with magnifying glass, busting myths

Not everyone knows the law inside-out, and myths and half-truths have a habit of spreading.

It’s always best to be sure when it comes to road use. Misinformation could lead to an unwitting traffic offence, the invalidation of your car insurance, or worse. 

Is it legal to use your phone in the car when you're stationary?

Someone using the phone in a stationary car
Photo by Jim Legans, Jr

You’ve been stuck in a tailback without moving for hours. You’re beyond bored. You decide to call someone to lighten your mood. But if your engine is on, you’re committing an offence.

Using your mobile phone while driving could land you with three points and a fine. And being stationary won’t wash with the courts as a defence.

A cautionary note if you think you’ll be ok using a phone with headphones or on speakerphone: If the police think you’re distracted while using them, you could still get stopped and potentially penalised.

Myth: Busted!

Can I be convicted for eating a banana - or any other food - at the wheel?

A banana. Which says 'nope!' on it

Well, you totally can. If you’re considered to be driving carelessly, you can be slapped with a CD10 for not paying due care and attention.

This isn’t restricted to eating, either. It can apply to any type of snacking, swigging, changing your music – or indeed any other common-sense distractions. Keep your eyes on the road!

Myth: Busted!

Is it legal to park on a single yellow line after 6pm?

A single yellow line road marking

Well, this one’s true actually. Although it’s always best to check any signs, just in case there are variations to parking restrictions.

Myth: Confirmed!

Is it illegal to drive barefoot or in flip-flops?

A driver stepping out of a car wearing flip-flops

Well, it’s not illegal per se, but certainly ill-advised. Flip-flops  in particular are considered to be the most dangerous type of footwear to drive in.

Pedals can easily get caught between the sole of your foot and the flip-flop , which can be hazardous. Flip-flops  can also easily slip off while driving and get caught between or under the pedals. Nightmare.

And wearing them can be a contributory factor to an offence. The Highway Code states that you mustn’t use footwear that prevents you from using the foot controls in the correct manner.

So, if you’re involved in an accident, a bad choice of shoes could be evidence for a prosecution for dangerous driving or driving without due care and attention.

Myth: Partly confirmed!

Is it illegal to drive with fog lights on when it’s not foggy?

Fog light symbol

Rule 226 of the Highway Code states that 'you MUST use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet)... but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves'.

If you put your fog lights on when you can see beyond 100 metres, you risk dazzling other drivers. This could lend weight to a prosecution.

Myth: Confirmed!

Is it legal to not wear a seatbelt in the back seat?

A very happy child wearing a seatbelt

Nonsense! Any passengers in the back of the car are a danger both to themselves and others in the car if they don’t buckle up. Which is why it’s the law to do so.

Note that there are a few specific exceptions. Notably when a car has no seatbelts in the back seat, and it was built that way.

Myth: Busted!

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Owe Carter

Owe Carter

Owe Carter is a content producer who's worked for Confused.com since 2007. He's the author of our Carless Cities report.

Twitter: @ConfusedOwe
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