Safety Advice and the Law

Road Safety Week 17th - 23rd November 2014

As part of road safety week co-ordinated by road safety charity Brake, Taggarts along with Lookers and Charles Hurst Northern Ireland are running a series of articles dedicated to safe driving. Below we take a look at some of the driving laws in the UK along with some advice and tips to help you stay safe while on the road.

Drink Driving:

From the 5th of December 2014 the legal amount of alcohol for drivers in Scotland will be reduced from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood bringing it into line with the majority of European countries.

In England & Wales the limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Although these are the legal limits alcohol can affect people differently, depending on your size, weight and age, and the type of alcohol you have been drinking.

If caught driving above the legal limit of alcohol you could face up to 3 months in prison, a fine of up to £2,500, and the possibility of losing your license.

If you refuse to provide a breath, blood sample you could be jailed for 6 months, face a fine of up to £5000, and a 1 year driving ban.

Any criminal convictions as a result of drink driving could result in being denied entry into the U.S.

Speeding:

If you are caught speeding you will be fined £100 and 3 penalty points will be added to your license.

The National speed limit is 30mph, the risk of death to a pedestrian is four times higher when travelling at 40mph or above.

The faster you are travelling the harder it is to stop.

Speeding accidents are more likely to happen on rural A roads

Beware of the weather, even if you're driving at the speed limit the weather especially rain, sleet and snow can make driving conditions unbearable.

Don't speed just because the roads are quiet, anything can happen in a moment's notice such as an animal darting out onto the road or a broken branch lying on the road which can be dangerous if travelling above the speed limit.

Tiredness/Fatigue:

Around 20% of road accidents are caused by someone falling asleep at the wheel. Most sleep related accidents happen in the early hours and after lunchtime. Falling asleep without warning does not happen, if you feel yourself drifting or feeling drowsy, pull over and stop and have a coffee or take a rest, DO NOT open the window, put on music etc this won't stop you feeling tired.

When going on a long haul journey, take a 15-20 minute break every couple of hours to stretch your legs, have something to eat and a refreshment.

If you can try to avoid driving through the night as this is the time your body usually sleeps and could make you feel tired.

If you have a medical condition that makes you tired or fall asleep such as narcolepsy, make sure you have informed the DVLA of this otherwise you could be fined up to £1000, and you could be prosecuted if you are in an accident as a result of your condition

Remember tiredness kills!

Drug Driving:

Drunk driving is the same as drink driving; it's illegal and if you are caught under the influence of drugs while driving you face up to 12 months driving ban, a fine of up to £5000 and a criminal record. If you get a criminal record for drug possession this will last for 11 years and could prevent you entering certain countries such as America.

From March 2015 there will be new laws regarding drug driving to bring it into line with drink driving laws. From March it will be an offence to be over specified limits of each drug while driving, drugs covered by this law include cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and ketamine. The limits for illegal drug use are expected to be extremely low like alcohol.

The effects of some drugs may not be as visible to the police but if they think someone is driving under the influence of drugs, they can stop them and ask them to do a 'Field Impairment Assessment' which includes walking in a straight line and checking if your pupils are dilated. If police think you are under the influence a blood test may be taken to show up any drug use.

Drugs can also include prescription drugs, as some can cause drowsiness or impair your driving ability, always read the labels on any medication before your journey.

Seatbelts:

It is illegal for driver and passengers not to be wearing a seatbelt, and those caught without could face an on-the-spot fine of £100, or be taken to court and face a maximum fine of £500.

Children under the age of 12 or fewer than 135cm in height (whatever they reach first) have to be seated in a correct sized car seat and securely fastened.

If you crash while not wearing your seatbelt you are twice as likely to die. People going on short journeys to the shops for example are less likely to wear a seatbelt than those going on longer journeys.

Mobile Phones:

It is illegal to use a hand held mobile device whilst driving, penalties include 3 points on your license and a £100 fine. If the case is taken to court you could face the possibility of losing your license altogether.

You are four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone while driving. Reaction times when on a mobile phone while driving are 50% slower than normal.

Switch phone off, keep on silent, a text or loud ringtone could make you lose concentration even if only for a moment this could prove fatal. Use a hands free set if you have to take calls while on the road.

Do not call someone who you know will be driving, if you do hang up instantly to avoid any distractions.

Cyclists:

The number of cyclists killed on our roads is increasing. In 2012 there were 118 deaths compared to 110 the previous year, 92% of these accidents involved another vehicle.

Look out for cyclists when driving

ALWAYS use your indicators to signal where you are going.

Give cyclists plenty of room, the road is for everyone.

Check for passing cyclists when you open your car door, if you hit a cyclist who is going around 30 miles an hour this could cause serious damage.

Animals:

When travelling with pets it's important to make sure they are kept under control at all times in case of an accident.

When taking your pet on a journey in your car make sure that they are restrained, in a carrier, or if possible have someone else with you to keep hold of the animal.

Do not allow your pet to stick their head out of the window whilst driving, although this may look adorable it is in fact extremely dangerous, they could be hit by a passing car, or flying debris, or worse if you have to come to a sudden stop. Open the window slightly to allow them some air.

As always DO NOT leave any animals inside the car alone for an extended period of time no matter what!

Also always remember to check underneath your car before taking off as animals particularly cats sometimes hide under cars for shelter and warmth in the winter.

By Jenna Niblock