The Highway Code. Short refresh for driving licence holders

Updated: May 29

Common Highway Code mistakes as survey shows 70% of drivers are not sure of rules

Despite how frequently the Highway Code is updated, 46.6% of drivers have never refreshed their knowledge of the Highway Code.

While many Brits are confident in their knowledge of driving, a survey has found that 70% of drivers are unable to answer questions from the Highway Code correctly.

Despite how frequently the Highway Code is updated, 46.6% of drivers have never refreshed their knowledge of the Highway Code, with those aged 45-54 the least likely to do so.

To help educate drivers who may need reminding of rules on the road, they have set the record straight on some common Highway Code misconceptions.

Speeding Limits

More than half of drivers (51.7%) admitted to going above the speed limit on the road. Whilst speeding may be commonplace, that doesn’t make it acceptable, and it is actually against the Highway Code to exceed the speeding limit in any capacity.

Rather than seeing the speeding limit as a target, as many drivers do, this number is the maximum speed to travel and should be regarded as this. There will be some instances that the speeding limit isn’t actually an appropriate or safe speed to drive at, for example in harsh weather conditions.


Tailgating is often associated with road rage and inconsiderate drivers. However, it’s important to know that tailgating is not

only dangerous, but the Highway Code has specific rules regarding it.

The Highway Code states that drivers should allow at least a two second gap between yourself and the vehicle in front, with this gap doubling in size when it rains. This is to ensure that drivers have enough time to stop without causing a collision.

Failure to do so will not only cause frustration and stress amongst your fellow drivers on the road, it could also result in being fined.

Despite the risk of tailgating, 45% of drivers admitted to getting too close to the back of another vehicle whilst driving. For those struggling to maintain a safe distance from the cars, maintain patient and safely change lanes to overtake the car in front of you.

If you are being tailgated, then do not speed up to try to increase the distance between yourself and the car behind. Instead, either switch lanes or safely pull over and wait for the car to go past.

The Highway Code states that drivers must not use a hand-held mobile phone, or similar device, when driving. Concerningly, 24% of drivers admit to checking or using their phones on the road, therefore breaking the Highway Code.

Although using hands-free equipment means that you don’t need to look down or check a device whilst driving, the Highway Code advises against using such devices as they are still likely to distract your attention from the road.

If you are often tempted to check your phone whilst driving or respond to

messages, then turn your phone off and place it in your bag or on the backseat before you begin your journey. If you do have any urgent calls that you need to take, then find a safe place to pull over and answer the phone when you have stopped driving.

Tiredness Behind the Wheel

More than half (55.8%) of UK drivers admitted to driving while tired and whilst this may not seem as dangerous a habit as checking your phone or tailgating on the road, it does greatly increase your risk of collision.

The Highway Code advises against undertaking long journeys between midnight and 6am. It also states that you should plan your journey to take sufficient breaks, recommending a minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two

hours of driving. To ensure that you have enough time to rest and recuperate during long journeys or when you’re feeling tired on the road, try to plan these stops into your travel time rather than planning solely for your time on the road itself.

Even if it’s just a 20-minute trip, feeling sleepy behind the wheel is dangerous and can affect your alertness, so try to opt for alternative methods of transportation to avoid any risks if you are tired.

Overtake, Don’t Undertake

It can be frustrating being stuck behind slow or dangerous drivers on the motorway, which is why many people can be tempted to overtake incorrectly.

Regardless, the Highway Code states that if you are on the motorway, you must not overtake on the left or move to a lane of your left to undertake.

Instead, take your time to ensure you can overtake safely on the right-hand lane: check your mirrors, make sure the lane you will be joining is sufficiently clear ahead and behind, glance at your blind spot and ensure you do not cut in on the vehicle you have overtaken.

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