Then and Now
Acceptable Driving Habits

Think today’s roads are dangerous? Drink-driving, over-loading, no seat-belts, no child car seats and no speed limits… none of these things were illegal that long ago. Our car insurance team has delved into the archives to dig out some of the most shocking facts about old-school driving habits to compare them with what's best practice – and the law – these days.

Drink Driving

Then:

Shocking as it may sound today, drink driving wasn’t always as strictly penalised as it is today. Although the first legal drink driving limit was set in 1967 and breathalysers were beginning to be phased in, the primary way police could check your ability to drive would still be determined by nothing more scientific than testing the driver’s ability to walk a straight line…

Now:

Drink driving isn’t just frowned upon nowadays, it’s illegal. Breath tests were widely implemented in 1983 and now, if you’re over the drink drive limit and have an accident, any claim for injury to you, or damage to your own car may not be paid. Any third party injury or damage would still be paid but it’s possible that your insurance provider could try to recover their costs if you were driving under the influence of alcohol. Plus a drink driving conviction means you're likely to see an increase in your insurance premium in future!

Did you know?

England and Wales allows a higher level of alcohol in the bloodstream (0.8 BAC) than countries like France or Scotland (0.5 BAC). However, if you’re the designated driver, it’s always best to stick to soft drinks.

Seatbelts

Then:

Imagine cramming your family into your car and not reminding them to put their seatbelts on… crazy, huh? The idea of actually being strapped safely into your seat is a modern one – wearing a seatbelt didn’t become a legal requirement until 1989.

Now:

Everyone must wear belts unless they're reversing or have proof of medical exemption and you can be fined up to £500 if caught not wearing one.

If you have an accident while driving without wearing a seatbelt, the chances of fatality increases by up to 200% so make sure you abide by the law and stay safe.

seatbelts

Did you know?

The modern seatbelt was invented in 1959 by a Swedish engineer, Nils Bohlin, who spent a year perfecting the design.

speed

Speed limits

Then:

Speed limits? What speed limits? Drivers were free to go as fast as they liked (or could manage) along motorways… until a 70mph limit was enforced on motorways in 1965. This limit was meant to be a temporary measure, but when the Government Road Research Laboratory discovered there had been 20% fewer crashes, effectively saving 60 lives, it was made permanent two years later.

Now:

Speed cameras were introduced in 1992 and each road has its own individual speed limit..

If you don’t spot any speed limit signs be sure to stick to the speed limit for built up areas which is 30 miles per hour so you don’t risk a fine and 3 points on your licence. If you are caught speeding, depending on how much you were exceeding the speed limit you may be offered a speed awareness course, which is a useful way to brush up on your driving skills. You could face a driving ban if you are a new driver and you accumulate six or more points within two years of passing your test. Otherwise you would face a ban if you accumulate 12 points in three years.

Child seats

Then:

Unbelievably, the very first child seats, around since the 1930s, weren’t designed to protect the child, but simply to boost them up so they could see out of the window and stay in one place!

Now:

After 2003 it became law that ALL children must use an approved child car seat until they’re 12 years old (or 135cm tall). Hospitals won’t allow babies to go home without first checking they have the correct child seat, and if drivers are caught with children not in seats or strapped in as per the law, the driver may receive a £100 fine. A record of this could also increase your insurance premium. Read our tips on how to choose the best car seat for your child.

car seats

Did you know?

Regardless of height or weight it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure any child under the age of 14 wears a seatbelt or appropriate safety restraint.

phone

Did you know?

Mobile phones are the greatest cause of accidents in the UK and using one while driving is against the law. As well as getting 3 penalty points and a £100 fine, your case could go to court and you could be disqualified from driving and get a fine of up to £1,000. Want to be sure you have all the facts? Check them out here.

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