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Should you beep your horn when driving round blind corners?

Close up of horn sign on a steering wheelWe spoke with motor lawyer Jeanette Miller to bring you the truth behind common motoring myths – but there were so many myths we’ve had to bring you a second installment!

  • Should you beep your horn when driving round blind corners? What about when you’re driving in the country and there are horses and other animals around?

Jeanette Miller says: "Section 112 of the Highway Code states that you must only use the horn while your vehicle is moving and when you need to warn other road users of your presence.

"So it is good practice to sound your horn before a blind corner to warn other road users that you are there and it could prevent a collision.

"If driving in rural areas, it is not illegal to sound your horn in the event it may scare a horse, but public services Direct Gov provides the following guidance for motorists:

  • Slow down and be ready to stop if necessary.
  • Look out for horse riders' signals to slow down or stop.
  • Watch out for sudden movements: horses can be easily frightened and unpredictable.
  • Don't sound your horn or rev your engine.
  • Pass wide and slow when overtaking, giving the horse plenty of room. Don’t accelerate rapidly once you have passed them.
  • On roundabouts, horse riders will keep to the left within the roundabout until reaching their exit, when they will signal left. They will normally signal right only when approaching exits they don't intend to use.

"Section 112 also states you must not use your horn when driving in a built-up area between the hours of 11.30pm and 7.00am, except when another road user poses a danger.

"The rules outlined in the Highway Code itself are, in the main, guidance," Miller adds.

"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 or careless driving."

  • Does a speed camera conviction count if there are no lines on the road, it hasn’t been maintained, or if your brake lights are showing in the picture? 

Miller says: "Some speed cameras work by taking two pictures and then comparing how many lines have been passed to work out the speed  of the vehicle.

"These types of cameras require lines on the road.

"Others use radar techniques and measure how long it takes for the signals to return and so do not need lines on the road.

"Cameras need only be maintained in the sense that they are correctly calibrated.

"It is quite difficult to challenge a fixed camera on the basis of its calibration as it works automatically with very little human input. 

"It does not matter if your brake lights are showing or not - if you are speeding you are speeding."

  • Is it true that 75 per cent of speed cameras have no film in them?

"It is impossible to say what proportion of speed cameras are operational at any one time.

"However, a Freedom of Information request in 2011 to all 43 police forces in England and Wales found that overall, only 44.7 per cent of speed cameras were working at any one time.

"Sussex, Cumbria and West Mercia police forces said that 100 per cent were working at all times.

"In contrast, this figure was only 11 to 12 per cent for the Thames Valley, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire police forces.

"However, speed cameras, operational or otherwise, are intended to act as a deterrent to speeding, so it’s best to concentrate on staying within the speed limit rather than worrying if a camera is operational or not."

  • When there is a temporary speed limit on the motorway do nearby speed cameras know that the speed limit has been changed?

"Areas in which temporary speed limit signs operate are serviced by variable speed limit cameras.

"This means that if the speed limit is temporarily changed, then the camera settings are also changed and will clock you at the lower speed limit."

Read our story on the 20th anniversary of speed cameras in the UK.

  • Is it true that you can legally drive 10 per cent plus 3mph over the speed limit - so 80mph on the motorway and or 36mph in residential areas?

Miller says: "If you are stopped by the police exceeding the speed limit by a small amount, they do have leeway to let you off with a warning or to give you an offer of penalty points instead of going to court.

"But if caught by a fixed camera it is perfectly legal for the police to send a notice of intended prosecution to you for going 31mph in a 30mph limit."

  • Do all of a car’s mirrors have to be functional before you can drive or do you only need two out of three?

"The law requires that a car first used after 1 August, 1978, must have three rear-view mirrors in place.

"One of those mirrors must have a view along the driver’s side of the car, one along the passenger side and one mounted inside the car. Older cars only need one mirror.

"A car would fail its MOT if it did not have the correct mirrors in place. Not having the correct mirrors in place is an offence carrying a maximum fine of £1,000." 

Click the link to read motoring myths part one: Is it illegal to park on single yellow lines and other motoring myths explained.

Motor lawyer Jeanette Miller, is a senior partner at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors. It specialises 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. Click the link to read Jeanette Miller's motoring blogs for Confused.com.

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Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick covers all things consumer for Confused.com. She started out on a weekly newspaper, via a national news agency and a stint in the fun but ‘not as glamorous as it appears on screen’ world of TV at the BBC researching consumer films for The One Show.

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