A breakdown of UK road laws and their enforcement

Commercial vans expert, Van Monster, provide an insight into a list of statistics regarding UK road laws and their enforcement.

The law

Rule 148: Drivers in England and Wales must not smoke or allow anyone to smoke when in an enclosed private vehicle should someone under 18 be on board.

The consequence

£50 fine.

Is the law being enforced?

A Freedom of Information request was made by the BBC, 42 English and Welsh police forces responded:

  • Dyfed-Powys Police revealed they had issued four verbal warnings.
  • Metropolitan Police revealed they had issued two verbal warnings.
  • Devon & Cornwall Police revealed they had issued one verbal warning.

None of the police forces had issued a fine as of the release of the information on June 29th 2016.


The law

Rule 90: Any health condition likely to affect your driving must be reported to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

The consequence

A £1,000 fine or even prosecution.

Is the law being enforced?

Direct Line car insurance carried out research and revealed that around three in ten motorists over the age of 65 have medical conditions. These involve diabetes, epilepsy, eye problems and heart troubles. However, almost half have failed to update the DVLA on these conditions. In addition to this, one in four motorists have a ‘notifiable’ condition – one in ten have failed to update the DVLA of this.


The law

Rule 92: Those required to wear either glasses or contact lenses in order to read a vehicle number plate, in good daylight, from a distance of 20 metres (or 20.5 metres when an old style number plate is used) must wear them whenever they are driving.

The consequence

A £1,000 fine, three penalty points or a discretionary disqualification.

Is the law being enforced?

One Poll conducted a survey with 1,000 participants, revealing that one in eight drivers who should be wearing glasses while driving admitted to being behind the wheel without them.


The law

Rule 95: Those in England and Wales must not drive if they:

  1. Have a breath alcohol level higher than 35 microgrammes/100 millilitres of breath, or
  2. Have a blood alcohol level of more than 80 milligrammes/100 millitres of blood.

The consequence

Drink-driving penalties come in various guises. They are as follows:

  • If you are found to be in charge of a vehicle while above the legal limit or unfit through drink, you may receive:
  • 3 months’ imprisonment.
  • A fine of up to £2,500.
  • A possible driving ban.
  • If you are found to be driving or attempting to drive while above the legal limit or unfit through drink, you may receive:
  • 6 months’ imprisonment.
  • An unlimited fine.
  • A driving ban of at least one year (though this will rise to three years if convicted twice in ten years).
  • If you refuse to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine to be analysed, you may receive:
  • 6 months’ imprisonment.
  • An unlimited fine.
  • A driving ban of at least one year.
  • If you cause death by careless driving and found to be under the influence of drink, you may receive:
  • 14 years’ imprisonment.
  • An unlimited fine.
  • A driving ban of at least two years.
  • The requirement to undertake an extended driving test before your driver’s licence can be returned.

Is the law being enforced?

A report released by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in July 2015 revealed:

  • 683,651 roadside breath tests were carried out by England and Wales police forces in 2013.
  • 12 per cent of drivers or riders tested (71,675 of the 683,651) either failed or refused to take the test.

The law

Rule 96: It is against the law to drive while under the influence of drugs or medicine. In regards to medicine, drivers should consult with their doctor about whether they should drive when prescribed to any of the following drugs:

  • Amphetamine (including Dexamphetamine or Selegiline)
  • Clonazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Methadone
  • Morphine or Opiate and Opioid-based drugs (including Codeine, Tramadol and Fentanyl)
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam

The consequence

  • A driving ban that will last for at least one year.
  • An unlimited fine.
  • Up to six months in prison.
  • A criminal record
  • A conviction for drug driving appearing on your driving licence for 11 years.

Is the law being enforced?

In a report from the Institute of Advanced Motorist (IAM), it was revealed that more than 400 drug drivers were arrested per month between March and May 2015.

In addition to this:

  • The Metropolitan Police made 214 arrests in the period covering March 2nd to May 11th — the highest number of drug-driving arrests recorded in the statistics.
  • Northumbria Police made 97 arrests.
  • Police forces in Cheshire made 70 arrests.
  • Police forces in Sussex made 58 arrests.
  • Police forces in South Yorkshire made 55 arrests.


The law

Rule 99: A seat belt must be worn in cars, vans and other goods vehicles where they are fitted. Furthermore, a seat belt or child restraint must be used by adults and children aged 14 years and over when seated in buses, coaches and minibuses, where they are fitted.

There are exemptions to this law, which are:

  • Holders of medical exemption certificates.
  • Anyone making deliveries or collections in goods vehicles where they travel less than 50 metres.

The consequence

A £100 on-the-spot fine or a maximum fine of £500 if prosecuted.

Is the law being enforced?

In 2015, a survey revealed that 93.5% of all drivers in England and Scotland were seen to be using seatbelts.

It was also revealed that:

  • 6 per cent of all front seat passengers based in England and Scotland were using seat belts or child restraints.
  • 3 per cent of all rear seat passengers based in England and Scotland were using seat belts or child restraints.
  • 2 per cent of car drivers based in England and Scotland were using seat belts.
  • 7 per cent of car front seat passengers based in England and Scotland were using seat belts or child restraints.
  • 6 per cent of car rear seat passengers based in England and Scotland were using seat belts or child restraints.


The law

Rule 105: Signs used by school crossing patrols must be obeyed (as well as those provided by police officers, traffic officers and traffic wardens).

The consequence

Failure to stop when the stop sign is help upright by a patrol officer could lead to:

  • Fined up to £1,000.
  • Given three penalty points on your driving licence.

Is the law being enforced?

The main thing to note with this law is the decline in school crossing patrols (lollipop men/women).

Brake, a road safety charity, discovered that the number of these patrols has decreased by at least 992 between 2010 and 2014 alone. This is despite the fact that 36 per cent of children aged between five and ten years old walk to school, as well as 38 per cent of kids aged between 11 and 16 years old.


The law

Rule 109: All traffic light signals and traffic signs giving orders must be obeyed — this includes temporary signals and signs.

The consequence

If you pass the first stop line when a traffic light is displaying red, you could face:

  • A £100 fixed penalty.
  • Three penalty points on your driving licence.

Is the law being enforced?

Following a Freedom of Information request, Esure revealed that the top 20 roads where motorists were found to be running red lights in 2015 were:

Name of road & location Constabulary Number of motorists caught running a red light in 2015
A523 The Silk Road, Macclesfield Cheshire Constabulary 2,552
A610 Nuthall Island, East Bound, Nottingham Nottinghamshire Police 1,700
A167 Durham Road (South), Gateshead Northumbria Police 1,543
A56 Great Ducie Street, Junction with Trinity Way, Manchester Greater Manchester Police 1,459
Victoria Street/Crosshall Street, Merseyside Merseyside Police 1,458
A34 Kingsway, Junction with Gatley Road, Stockport Greater Manchester Police 1,349
A635 Manchester Road, Junction with Ashton Hill Lane, Tameside Greater Manchester Police 1,314
A556 Chester Road, Junction with Dalefords Lane, Sandiway Cheshire Constabulary 1,160
A6514 Valley Road / Vernon Road, Basford, Nottingham (N) Nottinghamshire Police 1,130
A61 Upper Hanover Street, Junction with Glossop Road, Sheffield South Yorkshire Police 1,055
A308 Staines Raod West, Junction Chertsey Road, Ashford Surrey Police 977
Northway (A59)/ Hall Lane, Maghull Merseyside Police 887
Crosby Road South/Cambridge Road, Crosby Merseyside Police 883
A127 Southend Arterial Road, Junction with Progress Road, Leigh-on-Sea Essex Police 863
A27 Upper Brighton Road, Junction with Hillbarn Lane, Sussex Sussex Police 789
London Road, Oxford Thames Valley Police 709
A1018 North Bridge Street (N), Sunderland Northumbria Police 657
A610 Nuthall Island, West Bound, Nottingham (W) Nottinghamshire Police 639
A24 Buck Barn crossroads, Sussex Sussex Police 610
Ladymead, Junction Woodbridge Road, Guildford Surrey Police 559


The law

Rule 124: The maximum speed limit for a road and for a vehicle should never be exceeded. These speed limits are as follows, unless otherwise stated:

Vehicle type Built-up area Single carriageway Dual carriageway Motorway
Cars and motorcycles (car-derived vans up to two tonnes maximum laden weight included) 30mph 60mph 70mph 70mph
Cars towing caravans or trailers (car-derived vans and motorcycles included) 30mph 50mph 60mph 60mph
Buses, coaches and minibuses (though not exceeding 12 metres in overall length) 30mph 50mph 60mph 70mph
Goods vehicles (though not exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) 30mph 50mph 60mph 70mph*
Goods vehicles in England and Wales (when exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) 30mph 50mph 60mph 60mph
Goods vehicles in Scotland (when exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) 30mph 40mph 50mph 60mph


*This speed limit is reduced to 60mph if the goods vehicle is articulated or towing a trailer.

The consequence

A minimum penalty for a speeding offence is:

  • A £100 fine.
  • Three penalty points on your driving licence.

Is the law being enforced?

LV = car insurance revealed that each police force recorded an average of 56,080 speeding offences in 2015.

Comparing this to 2014, there was an 8% year-on-year increase and a rise of 20% compared to 2013.

The following was also found:

  1. Top five roads for speeding in 2015
Road Police force Number of speeding offences recorded
M6 Cheshire Constabulary 12,442
M25 Junction 5 Kent Police 12,330
Scotland Road, Liverpool Merseyside Police 11,760
M6 Toll Road Warwickshire Police 10,858
A358 Avon and Somerset Police 10,338


  1. Fastest drivers caught by police forces in 2015
Road Police force Speed
A556 Cheshire Constabulary 147mph
A31 Hampshire Constabulary 144mph
M25 Kent Police 142mph
A1 Lincolnshire Police 142mph
A4146 Thames Valley Police 142mph


The law

Rule 141: Unless indicated to do so, you should never drive in a bus lane during its period of operation.

The consequence

Driving in a bus lane can result in a £60 fine, reduced to £30 if it is made within 14 days of notice and increased to £90 if a driver has failed to pay the charge within 28 days.

Is the law being enforced?

At least £30 million in fines and an estimated £1 million in penalties were recorded by councils in 2014 The Times discovered.

The highest number of fines throughout 2014 were as follows:

Council Number of fines
Glasgow City Council 131,238
Birmingham 73,534
Manchester 77,240
Leeds 64,758


The law

Rule 149: A hand-held mobile phone or similar device must not be used when driving or supervising a learner driver. The only exceptions to this rule is to call 999 or 112 in a genuine emergency when it is either impractical or unsafe to stop.

The consequence

An automatic fixed penalty of £100 and three points on a driver’s licence can be given out if you are found breaking this law.

If this case then goes to court, you could face £1000 and disqualification from driving.

If the driver was of a good vehicle or a bus, a fine of £2,500 is given.

Is the law being enforced?

In 2014, it was announced by the British government that over 500,000 motorists on the road were caught using a hand-help phone when driving. This is an increase of the 1.4 per cent recorded when a similar exercise was conducted five years earlier.

This is how the offences were divided up by driver type in England and Scotland on weekdays and moving sites:

  • Van drivers — 2.7 per cent.
  • Car drivers — 1.4 per cent.
  • Lorry drivers — 1.2 per cent.
  • Bus, coach and minibus drivers — 0.4 per cent.


The law

There are various rules related to parking a vehicle in the UK — see rules 238 to 252 of The Highway Code by clicking here for full details.

The consequence

Depending on the where you were parked and who issues the fine, parking tickets can vary in cost. Generally, you will often have 28 days to pay the charge from the date it was issued, with the fine sometimes reduced by 50 per cent if settled within 14 days.

Receiving penalty points on your licence may also be a consequence however this is usually in rare situations such as when a vehicle has been left in a dangerous position.

Is the law being enforced?

The following data was recorded after councils across England were surveyed throughout 2014:

  • Greater London — 3,375,513 parking tickets issued. Of these…
  • 355,519 tickets were issued in Westminster.
  • 235,364 tickets were issued in Camden.
  • 217,239 tickets were issued in Islington.
  • South East England — 799,196 parking tickets issued. Of these…
  • 120,463 tickets were issued in Brighton and Hove alone.
  • North West England — 539,078 parking tickets issued. Of these…
  • 276,324 tickets were issued in Greater Manchester alone.
  • South West England — 464,538 parking tickets issued. Of these…
  • 233,816 tickets were issued either in Bristol, Plymouth of Bath.
  • Yorkshire and the Humber — 399,654 parking tickets issued*. Of these…
  • 93,540 tickets were issued in Leeds.
  • 54,425 tickets were issued in Sheffield.
  • 47,359 tickets were issued in Bradford.
  • East England — 329,728 parking tickets issued.
  • West Midlands — 308,498 parking tickets issued.
  • East Midlands — 297,826 parking tickets issued.
  • North East England — 188,251 parking tickets issued.



















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