• 74% of Brits think ‘small car crimes’ excusable
  • 24% believe that they should not be charged for breaking the law if there is a legitimate reason
  • 16% believe that drivers should be pardoned if they didn’t know they were committing a crime
  • 42% unaware of charges for eating or drinking at the wheel
  • 25% unaware they could face charges for failing to properly restrain a pet
  • Of those admitting to deliberately splashing a pedestrian, 71% are unaware that this was an offence

Research by Tempcover has revealed that the many drivers are ignorant of minor offences. The offences include: deliberately splashing pedestrians on pavements (71%), warning other drivers about speed traps (64%), handling a sat-nav whilst driving (59%), sounding a car horn whilst stationary or between 11.30am and 7pm (51%), smoking with passengers under 18 (49%), driving a friend or relative’s car without being sure you have the correct insurance (40%).

Ignorance no excuse

The list continues: eating or drinking at the wheel (42%), driving in inappropriate footwear such as flip flops or even barefoot (35%), playing music too loudly (31%), or failing to properly restrain a pet (25%), are all offences if  they caused= dangerous driving.

Despite the first mobile phone driving laws being introduced 18 years ago, 24% still admit to handling their phone whilst driving, with one in seven (14%) admit to texting on the road. A quarter (25%) of 25-34 year olds have admitted to these offences.

Now, drivers face six penalty points and a fine for touching their mobile phone for any reason while driving. The changes in the law closed a loophole that allowed motorists to take photos or videos at the wheel.

Road Safety Trust CEO Sally Lines said: “Whilst drivers might think that using their mobile phone, sat nav or eating and drinking behind the wheel are minor incidents, it distracts them from the task at hand which is driving and could cause an accident. If you feel distracted when driving, you should pull over to a safe place for a couple of minutes and only proceed when you feel it is safe to do so. You may not only avoid a fine or conviction you could also save a life.”

Insurance voided

Many British motorists are also driving without the right insurance. For example, 20% admit test driving a car when making a private purchase without knowing if they have the correct drive-away insurance. Surprisingly, more than half (54%) admit no awareness of committing a crime.

Similarly, insurance forms need to be accurate and honest if you wish to avoid fraud and invalidated claims. These included: underestimating annual mileage (23%), listing the incorrect occupation (20%), declaring the wrong age (15%), listing the main driver incorrectly (13%).

Judging leniency

Overwhelming numbers of British drivers (74%) believe there should be no charge for minor driving offences. For example when there is a legitimate excuse (24%), ignorance of the law(16%), no obvious signage to warn driver s(15%), grace periods after the introduction of new laws (14%), and no mentions in the theory test (5%).

In 2019, 12,347 UK drivers were charged for careless driving offences. Offences include unnecessarily slow driving or becoming distracted at the wheel by tasks such as eating and drinking. A further 11,402 were charged for using their mobile phone at the wheel in 2019.

Overall, 26% of drivers think that nobody should be excused for committing even a ‘minor’ motoring offence.

“Brits are still unaware their everyday actions can land them in trouble and that, shockingly, the majority think they should be excused for breaking the law.” Tempcover CEO, Alan Inskip, continues: “How menial the offences may seem to be, they are in place to ensure the safety of drivers and their passengers. The reality is that breaching even the inconspicuous rules could see drivers face hefty fines and points on their licence. These infringements could also potentially invalidate their claims, increase premiums and make it difficult to find an insurer to cover them at all.”

See the full report here