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10 driving myths you probably believe

10 driving myths you probably believe

Heard the one about it being illegal to go around a roundabout three times? Or what about white cars being safest? There are lots myths and rumours about driving – chances are you’ve heard them from “a friend of a friend” or seen them in a film. Here are 10 to make you think again.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 2 SEPTEMBER 2019

1. It’s illegal to go around a roundabout three times

You should know how you intend to exit a roundabout before you enter it – you owe it to other drivers and your passengers. Having to go around a roundabout a couple of times to find the right exit shows a lack of direction – but there’s no specific laws against it. But the police could pull you over and potentially charge you if the officer considers you’re driving without due care and attention or driving dangerously.

2. Lighter-coloured cars are safer on the road

There may be some truth in this, as light-coloured cars are easier to spot. But essentially, a car is only as safe as the person who’s driving and maintaining it, regardless of its colour.

3. Booze is banned from moving vehicles

Not true. Having an open container of alcohol in the car is illegal in most states in the USA. It may be that the myth grew out of seeing Hollywood actors swigging from a bottle wrapped discreetly in a brown paper bag, as they high-tailed it into the sunset. But, obviously, driving under the influence of drink or drugs is an offence.

4. The middle lane is fine for just cruising along at 70mph

This is a common misconception, but one that’s been rooted in the national psyche for decades. In fact, middle lane hogging can be considered driving without reasonable consideration, which is illegal. The Highway Code clearly states that: ‘You should always drive in the left-hand lane when the road ahead is clear. If you are overtaking a number of slower-moving vehicles, you should return to the left-hand lane as soon as you are safely past.’ It couldn’t be simpler. But that doesn’t stop lots of people ignoring it.

5. Motorways are the most dangerous roads in the UK

This is not true. Fast-moving A roads are the most dangerous. The majority of fatal and serious crashes from 2015 to 2017 were on single carriageway A roads, which have potentially more hazards, such as junctions and bends. Motorways are designed to contain accidents and tend to be straighter with fewer hazards. 

6. The police won’t charge you for going 10% over the speed limit

You might have heard that there’s a 10% leeway when it comes to going over the speed limit, but this isn’t the law. It’s up to each police force to decide to follow the guidelines on this matter. You should never drive over the speed limit. And there’s not much excuse for doing so: speed limits are usually well signposted and displayed in most sat nav systems. 

7. You can’t use any type of mobile while you’re driving  

Not true. For now, you’re allowed to use your mobile as a hands-free device or with headphones. You can also use your mobile as a sat nav system – so long as it’s in a fixed position and doesn’t obstruct your view of the road.  

8. Driving in reverse takes mileage off the car’s odometer

This particular myth might have come from the classic 1980s film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. After a day of joy-riding in a Ferrari, the kids put the car on blocks and put it in reverse for a few hours, in the hope of turning back the odometer. Needless to say, it doesn’t work out, and several million dollars’ worth of 1961 Ferrari 250GT California ends up at the bottom of a ravine. But it wouldn’t work, as odometers are designed to measure distance travelled, regardless of direction.

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9. You need to take your driving test again at the age of 70

While drivers will have to reapply for a new driving licence when they reach this landmark age, it’s not assumed that you suddenly lose several decades of skill and judgement just because you’ve hit 70. But you’ll have to renew your licence every three years.

10. If you break down on the motorway, it’s safer to stay in your vehicle

This is not the case. If you need to pull over onto the hard shoulder, turn the front wheels so that they’re pointing away from the road. Get out of the car by the left-hand door as soon as possible and stand on the other side of the crash barrier, if it’s safe to do so. Call for help and wait there until help arrives. If you break down in moving traffic and can’t leave your car, keep your seatbelt and hazard lights on and call 999.

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