Driving can be a complicated business. There are all sorts of laws and regulations to stick to, some less obvious than others. But thereâ€™s also the advice all drivers get at some point from friends and family warning them of well-worn â€œfactsâ€ about the dos and donâ€™ts of the road.
Sadly, many of these facts are a long way from the truth so weâ€™ve taken a look at some of the most common motoring myths and the truth behind them.
Itâ€™s illegal to eat while driving
Weâ€™ve all heard stories of drivers being pulled over by police and charged for eating or drinking at the wheel but, in fact, thereâ€™s no law against it. However, if police think that you are not in proper control of your vehicle because youâ€™re eating or drinking they can charge you with careless driving.
A 2012 study by the University of Leeds also suggested that the reaction times of motorists who were eating were up to 44 per cent slower than usual.
Itâ€™s illegal to use headphones
It seems silly to have anything that restricts your hearing but thereâ€™s no specific law against wearing headphones while driving. That doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s sensible and Rule 148 of theÂ Highway Code states that drivers should avoid distractions such as loud music that could mask other sounds. If police think you were distracted or not in full control of your vehicle because you were wearing headphones they could charge you.
All speed cameras flash if youâ€™ve been caught
Afraid not. There are many different types of speed cameras and while some do flash when they function thatâ€™s not true of all of them. You can find out more about the different types of speed cameras here.
You canâ€™t use your phone as a sat nav
This is more of a misunderstanding of the law than a myth. You can use a phoneâ€™s mapping app for navigation but there are certain conditions. It must be securely mounted in a position that doesnâ€™t obstruct your vision and youâ€™re not allowed to operate the touchscreen when driving. So mount the device properly and make sure you route is plotted before setting off.
You mustnâ€™t have an interior light on when driving
This myth is as almost as old as the motorcar and thereâ€™s no truth to it. If police think that having the light on is affecting your driving they can ask you to switch it off but thereâ€™s no law to say you canâ€™t have it on.
Itâ€™s illegal to drive barefoot
Another well-worn story that most of us have heard at some point. There is no law stating that you canâ€™t drive barefoot, or in flip-flops or sandals but you must be able to operate the controls safely.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency says: â€œWe would not recommend driving barefoot because you donâ€™t have the same braking force with bare feet as you do with shoes on.â€
You canâ€™t have open alcohol in the car
It sounds obvious that you shouldnâ€™t have booze around while driving but, bizarrely, thereâ€™s no law that says you canâ€™t have open alcohol in your car, or stopping a passenger from drinking while you drive. The law only relates to the amount of alcohol in the driverâ€™s blood and youâ€™ll only be prosecuted if you are over the limit.
The only exception is that you can be prosecuted for drinking alcohol in a car while supervising a learner driver.
You wonâ€™t be fined for doing less than 10% over the speed limit
Not true. The speed limit is just that – a limit – and if you exceed it you can be charged. However, guidance issued to officers suggests they employ a discretionary buffer of 10 per cent plus 2mph. The National Police Chiefsâ€™ Council says this is to ensure enforcement is proportionate but officers can still charge you for any speed in excess of the posted limit if they choose.