We’ve all fallen foul of the odd urban myth or two (swimming after eating, anyone?), but when it comes to driving it’s best to know fact from fiction. Below are the top ten driving myths, debunked.

It’s illegal to eat when you are driving

Myth.  It’s not illegal to dive behind the wheel but if you have an accident and your munching is found to be to blame then you can be done for careless driving.  That can result in an on the spot fine of £100 and also 3 points on your licence. 

It’s illegal to drink when you are behind the wheel

Myth. Like eating and driving there’s no law against it but again if you are in an accident because of it, then the same penalties will apply.  Being dehydrated when you are driving is not a good thing to do either because dehydration can lead to loss of focus.  The safest thing to do is to pull over for a drink.

Smoking behind the wheel is illegal

Myth, but again if the smoking causes an accident you will be held liable.  It is against the law, however, to smoke if anyone in the car is under 18 years of age although health campaigners who welcomed this change in the law in 2016 say that generally it is not being enforced. 

Driving with a light on in a car is illegal

Myth.  You can drive with an interior car light on (why would you want to?)  A police officer could pull you over and ask for it to be turned off and if it is proved to have distracted you when you are driving, fines and points could be meted out. 

It’s illegal to drive wearing headphones 

Myth.  There is no specific law that forbids the wearing of headphones but this can be a very dangerous practice.  You need to be able to hear emergencies vehicles and other road users, in fact, anything that is around you.  You could be charged with dangerous driving if music is too loud or headphones are being worn. While not a driving myth, it is safer to stick with your in-car stereo system.

Making a phone call using a hands-free system is OK.

True.  Actually holding a phone to make or receive a call when you are driving will see you gaining 6 points on your licence and a fine of £200.  This cause of accidents is a deadly one, and in 2016 caused around 32 collisions that were fatal.  Hands-free is allowed but it must be set up before you drive.  The same goes for Sat Navs, they must be fixed in place and not need to be fiddled with. 

If a speed camera doesn’t flash it means I haven’t been caught?

Myth.  There are different types of speed camera.  Some will flash as they take a picture of you speeding your way past.  Others use infra red to clock your speed.  

It’s Ok to drive at 10% over the speed limit. 

Myth.  This idea probably stems from the fact that many vehicle speedometers will allow a ten per cent margin for error in overestimating although not underestimating speed.  It is not OK to drive at 33 mile per house in a 30 mile an hour area. Speeding is one of the most common driving offences on UK roads.  You can be prosecuted for driving even just one mile an hour over the limit.  The individual officer who catches a speeding motorist will usually exercise some discretion, but this is by no means a right. 

It’s illegal to have open alcohol in the car.

Myth.  It is not illegal to have a passenger drinking alcohol in your car so it’s not illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a car unless you are supervising a learner.  There are of course strict maximum blood alcohol levels for UK drivers and the Department for Transport report that about nine thousand people die or are injured annually on the roads due to drunk driving. 

A couple of drinks won’t put me over the limit.

Myth. There is a widely held belief that men can have a couple of pints and women a large glass of wine and still be under the legal limit for driving. The effect that alcohol has on your blood alcohol limit is affected by other factors like any exercise you’ve done or food you’ve eaten.  There’s no one-size-fits-all safe number of drinks to have before getting behind the wheel. The best way to be sure that you are not over the limit is not to drink at all!  

Driving myths abound – mostly because no one bothers to stop and check the highway code or even ask Google! Next time you get some questionable driving advice, the best thing to do is make a quick search online to validate or bust the claim. In the meantime, drive carefully!

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