It’s illegal to eat while driving – the truth behind the most common motoring myths

It’s illegal to eat while driving – the truth behind the most common motoring myths
It’s illegal to eat while driving – the truth behind the most common motoring myths

Driving can be a complicated business. There are all sorts of laws and regulations to stick to, some less obvious than others. But there’s also the advice all drivers get at some point from friends and family warning them of well-worn “facts” about the dos and don’ts of the road.

Sadly, many of these facts are a long way from the truth so we’ve taken a look at some of the most common motoring myths and the truth behind them.

It’s illegal to eat while driving

We’ve all heard stories of drivers being pulled over by police and charged for eating or drinking at the wheel but, in fact, there’s no law against it. However, if police think that you are not in proper control of your vehicle because you’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.

It’s illegal to use headphones

It seems silly to have anything that restricts your hearing but there’s no specific law against wearing headphones while driving. That doesn’t mean it’s sensible and Rule 148 of the 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.

Read more: You could be breaking these 11 little-known driving rules (and face big fines)

All speed cameras flash if you’ve been caught

motoring myths

Afraid not. There are many different types of speed cameras and while some do flash when they function that’s not true of all of them. You can find out more about the different types of speed cameras here.

You can’t use your phone as a sat nav

This is more of a misunderstanding of the law than a myth. You can use a phone’s mapping app for navigation but there are certain conditions. It must be securely mounted in a position that doesn’t obstruct your vision and you’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 mustn’t have an interior light on when driving

This myth is as almost as old as the motorcar and there’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 there’s no law to say you can’t have it on.

It’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 can’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: “We would not recommend driving barefoot because you don’t have the same braking force with bare feet as you do with shoes on.”

You can’t have open alcohol in the car

It sounds obvious that you shouldn’t have booze around while driving but, bizarrely, there’s no law that says you can’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 driver’s blood and you’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 won’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 Chiefs’ 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.

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