We’ve teamed up with motor lawyer Jeanette Miller and her team at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors to bring you the truth behind a number of common motoring myths.
One reason for many misunderstandings over the rules of the road relates to the status of the Highway Code, Jeanette Miller says.
"The rules outlined in The Highway Code itself are, in the main, guidance," Miller says.
"But certain codes also have corresponding legislation and any breach of the code could stand as evidence of driving far below a reasonable standard in cases of dangerous driving and careless driving."
- Can you legally park on single yellow lines after 6pm?
Miller says: "Yes, you can legally park on single yellow lines after 6pm. However, it is wise to always check signage in place in case of variations to parking restrictions."
- Will sucking on a penny or breath mint fool a breathalyser? Can heavy breathing or hyperventilating fool a breathalyser by filling the blood with oxygen?
"Sucking on a penny or a breath mint will not fool a breathalyser. The machine requires long breaths and only ends up measuring the alcohol in deep lung air.
"This is to avoid measuring the alcohol on your breath and to measure the alcohol actually in your body. Deep breathing will not have any effect on a breath or blood alcohol reading.
"The readings are a measure of concentration of alcohol in your bodily fluids.
"Even if hyperventilating increased the amount of oxygen in your blood – it is actually more likely to leave you lightheaded or even cause you to faint – the increase would be nominal and would not affect the reading."
- Is it illegal to drive barefoot or in flip flops?
Miller says: "No, but driving in flip flops or sandals of a similar design is considered by far the most dangerous type of footwear to drive in.
"Pedals can easily get caught between the sole of your foot and the flip flop leading to a reduction of control to the vehicle. Flip flops can also easily slip off whilst driving and get caught between or under the pedals.
"The Highway Code states that you must not use footwear that prevents you from using the foot controls in the correct manner.
"So if you are involved in a car accident, a bad choice of shoes could add weight to a prosecution of dangerous driving or driving without due care and attention."
- Can a fixed speed camera catch you if you’re driving towards it rather than driving away from it?
"Much depends on the camera," says Miller. Gatso speed cameras - the most common type in the UK - are rear-facing. The camera flashes when the vehicle has passed so it does not blind approaching motorists.
"It is common for authorities to position Gatso cameras so that they can be turned around to check both sides of the road, but they can only do this in one direction at a time.
"Truvelo speed cameras are forward-facing cameras. They are designed to take images of the front of a vehicle as it passes in front of the camera.
"In many cases this allows authorities to be able to identify who was actually driving the car at the time the offence was committed.
"When forward-facing, Truvelo cameras utilise an infra-red flash system, which means there is no bright flashing light to blind an oncoming driver.
"The infra-red trigger relies on the painted white lines and strips in the road that are used to measure vehicle speed."
Read our story on the 20th anniversary of speed cameras in the UK.
- Is it illegal to drive with fog lights on when it’s not 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'.
"Drivers who turn on their fog lights when visibility is greater than 100 metres can cause an accident by masking the brake lights and dazzling other drivers on the road.
"Arguably, you could therefore be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving where your standard of driving is assessed by the court.
"A breach of the Highway Code is often accepted as evidence of careless driving."
- Is it illegal not to let buses pull out?
"Rule 223 of the Highway Code states 'Buses, coaches and trams. Give priority to these vehicles when you can do so safely, especially when they signal to pull away from stops. Look out for people getting off a bus or tram and crossing the road'.
"So, it is good driving practice to let a bus out, but if a driver does not do so then they are not breaking the law."
- Coasting in neutral – is it illegal?
Miller says: "It’s not a crime per se, but if you were to have an accident you may be found to have been driving carelessly.
"Also, if you are injured in a crash and are claiming for personal injury, you may well have any damages you would have been awarded reduced because of the coasting if it contributed to the accident."
Motor lawyer Jeanette Miller, is a senior partner at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors, a UK firm specialising solely in defending drivers who face prosecution for motoring offences. Meet the team who helped answer these motoring queries over on the Geoffrey Miller Solicitors' Facebook page.
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