Drivers Clouded by Urban Motoring Myths


Motorists caught speeding or driving without due care and attention lack basic knowledge of the Road Traffic Act, survey finds.

Don't eat and drive

A recent survey carried out by law firm Simpson Millar found that, on average, less than half of drivers are aware of what constitutes due care and attention on the road.

In November 2015, Simpson Millar asked 1,000 people the following question: Which of the following driving misdemeanours do you think could result in someone having 3 points endorsed on their licence?

Putting your makeup on whilst driving 66%
Not stopping at a school crossing 58%
Eating and drinking whilst driving 56%
Doing a 'wheelie' on a motorcycle 52%
Shunting / rear ending another car 49%
Refusing to have an eye test 42%
Lane hogging 40%
Splashing a pedestrian by driving through a puddle 24%
Driving against sun glare if it causes an accident 14%
None of the above 7%

Motoring offences lawyer, Julie Robertson says she was surprised at the lack of knowledge amongst those behind the wheel.

“Our survey shows a widespread lack of knowledge of what is considered safe and careful behaviour on the road. In many cases, people simply don’t think they are causing an offence.”

The scenario which the lowest number of people highlighted as being a potential offence was causing an accident while driving against the glare of the sun.

“If you drive into the glare of the sun and cause an accident, you can be prosecuted under the Road Traffic Act. At this time of the year, this is a huge issue while the sun is low in the sky and the roads are often wet from rain and fog. Yet only 14% of people know that they have a stop if blinded by the sun and wait for the conditions to improve if they can’t see well enough to proceed. Dozens, if not hundreds, of accidents could be avoided each year if people took on this point.”

Under Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, people have a responsibility to drive with due care and attention, and with reasonable consideration, towards other road users, and breaches of that duty include: a failure to stop at a school crossing, rear ending another car, splashing a pedestrian by driving through a puddle and lane hogging. Fines and license points can be issued to those that don’t.

“For driving without reasonable consideration the test in Section 3 cases is whether someone has been inconvenienced. For example, doing a wheelie on a motorcycle can be considered an offence, but only if it actually causes inconvenience. We have successfully defended several fixed penalties issued where a motorist’s behaviour, albeit undesirable, didn’t actually cause anyone an inconvenience – a traffic officer simply saw something they didn’t like and issued a fixed penalty.”

In addition to not being able to identify common road offences, motorists typically still believing a number of myths when it comes to speeding, says Julie: “There are a lot of unhelpful urban myths when it comes to traffic offences. Many people still believe that they won’t be prosecuted as long as they stay below 90mph on the motorway, and who think that it is generally acceptable to drive as much as 10% above the signposted limit. None of these are true and in 2015, my firm saw a rise in the number of people receiving and challenging fixed penalties handed out for exactly these transgressions.”

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