A new survey of over 12,000 drivers conducted by the AA, the UK’s number 1 breakdown cover service,  reveals just how knowledgeable drivers are on the rules of the road when it comes to driving violations.

The AA has also highlighted eight lesser-known driving offences, to help motorists avoid some potentially hefty fines as they hit the roads. 

The full research can be found here: https://www.theaa.com/breakdown-cover/advice/motorist-morals 

54% of UK drivers have committed a driving offence without realising

The AA’s survey found that, shockingly, over half (54%) of drivers in the UK have previously committed a driving offence without realising. 

58% of male drivers are guilty of committing unknown traffic violations compared to 47% of women.

Top 5 regions most likely to unknowingly commit a traffic offence:

  1. Yorkshire & the Humber – 58%
  2. North East – 57%
  3. London – 57%
  4. East Midlands – 56%

Surpassing the speed limit remains the most prevalent driving violation, with 55% of drivers admitting to it

The AA’s survey also reveals the traffic offences that drivers continue to commit, even though the majority of them know they are against the law.

8% of drivers surveyed admitted to using a hand-held mobile phone while driving, and 6% have previously failed to stop at a red light or stop sign.

The top five most commonly committed driving offences: 

Driving offence% of people who have committed the offence
Driving above the speed limit (speeding)55%
Swearing or making rude gestures at fellow motorists22%
Driving without clearing snow off your roof22%
Flashing your headlights to warn other drivers of speed traps20%
Driving with an unsecured pet in your vehicle13%

Eight lesser-known driving offences that could cost you up to £5,000.

Breakdown experts at the AA have shone a light on some of the lesser-known road rules that drivers need to be aware of, in order to avoid some potentially costly fines.

  1. Splashing a pedestrian with a puddle Penalty: A fixed penalty notice of £100, increasing to £5,000 if the case goes to court, or if the driver was found to have acted with clear aggressiveness. Under section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is illegal to splash someone as it amounts to driving “without reasonable consideration for other persons.” Almost half of drivers (45%), don’t realise that this could lead to a hefty fine, however, 93% of drivers do say that they feel guilty if they have splashed a nearby walker in the past. 
  2. Beeping your horn while stationary (where no danger is present) Penalty: A fixed penalty notice or an on-the-spot fine of £30, increasing to £1,000 if the driver fails to pay. Motorists should only ever use a car horn to notify other drivers of their presence when moving. Only 45% of drivers realise it’s an offence to use the horn when stationary, and 7% admit that they have previously sounded their horn out of anger when on the roads. 
  3. Driving with an unsecured pet in your vehicle Penalty: A fixed penalty notice or on-the-spot fine of £100, increasing to £5,000 if the driver fails to pay. 42% of drivers are unaware that it’s an offence to drive with your pet in the vehicle if they are not properly secured. The Highway Code defines this as being ‘suitably restrained’, which, in most cases, will mean keeping pets in carry crates or specially designed pet seats. 
  4. Flashing your headlights to warn other drivers of speed traps Penalty: A maximum fine of £1,000. Almost half (40%) of drivers are unaware that warning other drivers of police presence or speed traps is an offence, and 20% of drivers admitted to having done this in the past.
  5. Beeping your horn between 11:30 pm and 7am in a built up area Penalty:  A fixed penalty notice or on-the-spot fine of £30, increasing to £1,000 if the driver fails to pay. 23% of drivers don’t realise that there are only certain times in which they are able to use their horn. According to The Highway Code, it’s an offence to use a horn in a built-up area during the nocturnal hours, unless there is a genuine hazard. These built-up areas include any road with streetlights and a 30mph speed limit. 
  6. Driving with an excess of passengers in a vehicle Penalty: An on-the-spot fine of £500 increasing to £5,000 if the case goes to court. Most drivers are aware that this is a serious offence, however 10% of those drivers surveyed were unaware of this. Driving with too many passengers poses several risks, including a lack of seatbelts, and an obscured view out the rear window. 
  7. Not leaving contact information after hitting a parked vehicle Penalty:  A fine of up to £5,000 and points on your licence. 70% of people have previously had their vehicle damaged by another vehicle, and 85% of these have been left without the contact details of the other driver. Supermarket car parks are the most common location for this offence, with 60% of the above cases occurring here. Driving off without leaving contact information counts as a hit and run and if you’re later tracked down via witness testimony or CCTV you could face several points being added to your licence as well as a fine.  
  8. Throwing litter from your vehicle Penalty:  An on-the-spot fine of £150. One-in-ten (9%) drivers are unaware that throwing litter from a vehicle is considered a driving offence. While also being incredibly bad for the environment, throwing litter from a car can cause it to fly into the windscreen of other drivers, obscuring their vision and endangering them and those around them. 

Nick Powell, AA Patrol of the Year says, “It’s important that every driver is fully aware of the Highway Code, to ensure they keep themselves, and others, safe while on the roads. A lack of understanding from even one driver can impact the safety of every other vehicle, cyclist, and pedestrian they share the road with, as well as the people or pets they might have in their car.

“Motorists should take the time to refresh their knowledge of traffic rules and regulations, no matter how long they’re been driving, and should also avoid any common mistakes, such as speeding or swearing at other motorists.

“Drivers are accountable for the safety of all their passengers too, so they need to ensure they don’t overfill the vehicle, that any pets are secured, and that every single person is wearing a seatbelt.”

You can find more in the full study by the AA – https://www.theaa.com/breakdown-cover/advice/motorist-morals