Car Fines to be Aware of During the School Run
As the end of summer approaches, the school run is set to become a major part of parents' lives once again. In addition to the usual safety concerns during the school drop off, parents should also be aware of the fines they could receive for certain offences.
From idling outside school gates, to venting frustrations with your car horn, we’ve highlighted a range of offences that could get parents in trouble and the fines they could face for ignoring the rules.
Never drive over the speed limit when running late
Highway Code: 124
Penalty points: 3
Whether you’re late dropping the kids off at school after a hectic morning, or in a rush to pick them up on time at the end of the day, it can be tempting to ignore the speed limit and go a little faster on the roads.
Speeding is illegal, and the minimum penalty is a £100 fine and three points added to your licence. The penalty is even more severe if you get caught a second or third time and receiving 12 or more points within three years can get you disqualified from driving altogether.
Avoid using your horn out of frustration
Highway Code: 112
Fine: Up to £1,000
Getting stuck behind a slow driver or a long line of traffic when you’re doing the school run can be very stressful, but it’s important to avoid sounding your horn aggressively to vent your frustration.
According to rule 112 of the Highway Code, you should only ever use your horn when your vehicle is moving and you need to warn other drivers of your presence. Honking your horn without a good reason could result in a fixed penalty notice of £50, which can rise to £1,000 if challenged in court.
Don’t drive in a bus lane to get there faster
Highway Code: 141
Fine: Up to £160
Another tempting idea when running late to drop off or pick up your kids from school is to take a shortcut through a bus lane – but you could pay the price if you do.
You should never drive in a bus lane when restrictions are in place. Doing so can land you a fine of up to £80, or up to £160 within Greater London.
Never use your mobile phone to check where children are while driving
Highway Code: 149
Fine: Up to £1,000 for cars
Penalty points: 6
If you need to contact a child or children to find out where they are when picking them up from school, never attempt to do this while driving – this includes texting, calling, or even checking where they are on location apps, such as ‘Find my Friend’. Rule 149 of the Highway Code warns drivers not to use a hand-held mobile phone (or similar device like a tablet) for any purpose while driving, as this can take your focus away from the road and your vehicle.
Any driver caught using their phone at the wheel could receive a fine of up to £200 fine – which can rise up to £1,000 for cars or £2,500 for lorries and buses – and six penalty points.
Don’t drive down a road with School Streets initiatives in place to get closer to the school gates
Contravention code 53
Fine: Up to £130 in London
Some roads outside of schools operate a School Streets initiative, which applies temporary restrictions to motorised traffic on that road at drop-off and pick-up times. The aim is to reduce air pollution and improve road safety.
If you drive down a road with School Streets rules in place during the period of traffic restrictions, you could be handed a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) under contravention code 53 for failing to comply with a sign indicating restrictions on vehicles entering a pedestrian zone. This could result in a fine of up to £130 in London.
To avoid receiving a PCN, make sure to stay alert and pay attention to any signs in or around the streets outside the school.
Don’t stop or park by the school gates to drop off or pick up children
Highway Code: 243
Fine: Up to £70
Even if there are no restrictions in place preventing you from driving up to the school, you should never stop or park your vehicle directly outside the school gates.
Although it might be more convenient to park as close to the entrance as possible, doing so violates rule 243 of the Highway Code and could result in a fine of either £50 or £70, depending on the impact of the offence.
Never leave your engine running while waiting for children to come out of school
Highway Code: 123
Fine: Up to £80
Even if you’re sure you’ll only be waiting for a few minutes, you should never leave your car engine running while waiting for your children to get out of school.
Rule 123 of the Highway Code stipulates that drivers must never leave an engine running unnecessarily if the vehicle is stationary on a public road. You can be charged £20 for failing to comply with this rule, or £40 if issued a fixed penalty notice. Some councils may even allow traffic enforcement officers to issue a Penalty Charge Notice of £80 for idling vehicles.
To avoid being penalised, you should always apply your vehicle’s parking brake and switch off the engine to reduce emissions and noise pollution while you wait.
Don’t get out of your car to say goodbye with the engine running
Highway Code: 123
Fine: Up to £80
As well as warning drivers not to leave their engines idling while stationary, Highway Code rule 123 also states that you should never leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine still running. That means no getting out of the car to hug your kids goodbye at the school gates unless you turn the engine off first.
Failing to comply with this can once again result in a fine of up to £80.
Make sure children always wear their seatbelts
Highway Code: 99
When driving children to or from school, always ensure that they wear their seatbelts correctly. This is something you should be aware of when driving anywhere with children, but it’s especially important to check during the school run, when a tight schedule and excitement might make you more forgetful than usual.
If a child under 14 is caught not wearing a seatbelt while you’re driving, you can be fined £500.
If you drive a vehicle that was made without seatbelts, such as a classic car, you aren’t allowed to carry any children under 3 years old and children over 3 are only permitted to sit in the back seats.
Advice for a safe school run
School drop off can be a chaotic time, with cars and children converging on the school gates and nearby roads. This can create a safety hazard, especially for young children.
To limit potential dangers, always pay attention to the traffic and pedestrians around you – especially with so many children in the area. That means avoiding any distractions such as using your phone while behind the wheel. If you need to contact your child, find somewhere safe to stop and park your vehicle first.
Fines can be costly, and penalty points can add to the expense, by potentially increasing the cost of your car insurance. To avoid paying the price, motorists should make sure to keep up to date with the rules of the road and drive safely at all times.
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Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert
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