Rules for drivers & motorcyclists

  1. General advice
  2. Road use and Navigation
  3. Parking and Waiting
  4. Vulnerable Road Users
  5. Drivers and Motorcyclists
  6. Rules for Motorcyclists
  7. Pedestrians
  8. Defensive driving tips
  9. Road Test Tips
  10. Road Signs
  11. Highway Code Test

Licensing Requirements

You MUST have a valid driving licence for the class of motor vehicle you are driving.

If you are in posession of a provisional licence, you can then ride on the public road, with L plates, for up to one year with a licensed driver in the car at all times. To obtain your full licence you MUST pass a practical road test.

If you have obtained a full car licence you may ride motorcycles on public roads.

Insurance

To use a motor vehicle on public roads, you MUST have a valid insurance policy. This MUST cover you for injury or damage to a third party while using that motor vehicle. Before driving any motor vehicle, make sure that it has this cover for your use or that your own insurance provides adequate cover. You MUST NOT drive a motor vehicle without insurance. Also be aware that even if a road traffic incident is not your fault, you may still be held liable by your insurance company.

The condition of your vehicle

Before taking your vehicle on the road be sure to check the following :

  • fuel, oil or water leaks.
  • water level in the radiator and ensure the radiator cap is secured firmly.
  • headlights, brake lights, turning indicators and hazard warning indicators.
  • tyre pressure, tyre tread depth level and be sure that there are no deep cuts, lumps, bulges, tears or ply exposure.

In a car, always carry the following at all times :

  • Wheel Jack and accessories.
  • High visibility/reflective jacket/vest.
  • First aid kit.
  • Hazard warning triangle.

Driver fitness

Be certain that you are fit to drive at all times before going on public roads.

Driving when you are tired increases your risk of collision and lowers your concentration. To minimize this risk :

  • be sure you are fit to drive.
  • Do not begin a journey if you are tired or fatigued.
  • Get a good night’s sleep before embarking on a long journey.
  • avoid undertaking long journeys between midnight and 6 am, when natural alertness is at a minimum.
  • plan your journey to take sufficient breaks. A minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving is recommended.
  • if you feel at all sleepy, stop in a safe place and take a break.

Do not stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway.
The most effective ways to counter sleepiness are to drink caffeinated coffee or reliable brand energy drinks and to take a short nap of at least 15 minutes.

Vision

You MUST be able to read a vehicle number plate, in good daylight, from a distance of 20 metres. If you need to wear glasses to do this then you MUST wear them at all times while driving.

Drugs and alcohol

Do not drink and drive, it will seriously impair your judgement and abilities.

Alcohol will :

  • give you a false sense of confidence.
  • reduce co-ordination and slow down reactions.
  • affect judgement of speed, distance and risk.
  • take time to leave your body; you may be unfit to drive in the evening after drinking at lunchtime, or in the morning after drinking the previous evening.

The best solution is not to drink at all when planning to drive because any amount of alcohol reduces your ability to drive safely. If you are going to drink, arrange another means of transport such as a taxi or have with you a licensed driver who does not drink.

There are types of prescription medication that cause drowsiness. Check the instructions on the pack or ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medication wont put you in any danger.

Vehicle towing, loading and trailers

Vehicle towing and loading

As a driver :

  • you MUST NOT tow more than your licence permits.
  • you MUST NOT overload your vehicle or trailer. Overloading is more common with public transport operators.
  • You should not tow a weight greater than that recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle.
  • you MUST secure your load and it MUST NOT stick out dangerously. Make sure any heavy or sharp objects and any animals are secured safely. If there is a collision, they might hit someone inside the vehicle and cause serious injury or death.
  • you should properly distribute the weight in your caravan or trailer with heavy items mainly over the axle(s) and ensure a downward load on the tow ball.

Manufacturer’s recommended weight and tow ball load should not be exceeded. This should avoid the possibility of swerving or snaking and going out of control. If this does happen, ease off the accelerator and reduce speed gently to regain control, do not try to fight with the vehicle’s steering.

carrying a load or pulling a trailer may require you to adjust the headlights.

In the event of a breakdown, be aware that towing a vehicle on a tow rope is potentially dangerous. You should consider professional recovery or a tow-bar.

Passenger Safety and Protection

You MUST always put a seat belt in cars and other vehicles if one is fitted. Adults and children aged above 14 years MUST use a seat belt or child restraint, where fitted, when seated in buses.

Children in cars

Drivers carrying children in cars and other vehicles must ensure that :

  • children should get into the vehicle through the door nearest the pavement.
  • child restraints are properly fitted as per manufacturer’s instructions.
  • children do not sit behind the rear seats in an estate car or hatchback, unless a special child seat is fitted.
  • the child safety door locks, where fitted, are used when children are in the vehicle.
  • children are kept under control.

A rear-facing baby seat MUST NOT be fitted into a seat protected by an active frontal airbag, as in a crash it can cause serious injury or death to the child.