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Don't fall foul of obscure driving laws

By Mark Andrews | Motors | Published:

Don't try this – Blakey about to get a soaking in On The Buses
Don't fall foul of the parking wardens

Remember the opening credits of On The Buses, when driver Stan drenches his inspector by speeding through a puddle?

It might be a classic image of British television, but if Stan pulled that stunt today, he could find himself up on a charge of careless driving.

Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 defines careless driving in several ways, including one of others being ?inconvenienced? by your driving. Being soaked through to the skin is certainly inconvenient.

Here we look at some lesser-known motoring offences which can land you in trouble with the law:

*Parking more than 20ins away from the kerb could lead to an on-the-spot fine being issued.

*When using any designated space, a car is not considered ?in? the space if any of the wheels are over any lines, and the driver is liable to be issued with a ticket.

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*You do not need to be in a vehicle to fall foul of parking laws. Putting out cones, bins or other obstacles to reserve a parking space can also be illegal, constituting a breach of the Highways Act 1980 by causing an obstruction. It is punishable by a fine.

*Scraping the windscreen of your car while the engine is running is also an offence, attracting a fine of �20 ? increasing to �40 if not paid within two weeks.

It contravenes Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, enforcing Rule 123 of The Highway Code which says: ?You must not leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine running or leave a vehicle engine running unnecessarily while that vehicle is stationary on a public road.?

*Misuse of the horn: Using the horn while a car is stationary is against the law, and this obviously applies when parked. But it is also illegal to sound your horn at all between 11.30pm and 7am except, of course, in the case of an emergency. And don't think you can sound your horn because somebody in front is driving like an idiot ? the horn is only to be used to alert other road users to your presence, and should never be used as a rebuke. Laws governing the use of the horn are set down in Regulation 99 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Improper use of the horn can lead to fines of between �30 to �1000.

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*Playing loud music. The law: It?s illegal to listen to a loudspeaker in the street between 9pm and 8am, according to the Control of Pollution Act 1974. While there is an exception to this if the speaker is in or fixed to a vehicle, but it is still an offence if the music gives 'reasonable cause for annoyance to persons in the vicinity'.

*Parking in a narrow road. Always ensure there is sufficient space for large vehicles ? and emergency vehicles in particular ? to pass. Failure to do so constitutes obstructing the highway. And even if you are not bothered about the law, or the safety of your neighbours, there is a cautionary tale about a fire engine which caused considerable damage to about 10 badly parked cars on its way to an emergency. Their owners were advised to claim off their own insurance.

*Don't think you can park on double yellow lines outside a shop, and claim that you were loading. Such use is only permitted if the load is of sufficient volume, weight or difficulty to necessitate parking there.

*If you park on a road where the speed limit is more that 30mph, you are required by law to leave your sidelights on overnight. The same applies if you park within 33ft of the nearest junction, or facing away from the direction of the traffic.

*Driving with an obscured number plate. You might not think it a major offence if your number plate is covered with snow or dirt, but the law take it extremely seriously. This infringes Section 43 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 and can result in a fine of up to �1,000. Increased use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras means that police are cracking down on this now.

*Allowing your dog to sit unrestrained in your car can land you in hot water. The Highway Code states that any animals travelling in a moving vehicle must be suitably restrained. It only becomes an offence if the driver is distracted by the animals, but if this is the case the penalty ranges from a �100 fine and three penalty points to a �5,000 fine and nine points.

And if you have an accident as a result of the distraction, there is a good chance your insurance will be rendered invalid, meaning there will be no payout and the risk of further fines.

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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