We know what it’s like. You’re in the driver’s seat, cruising the UK in your motorhome, head and shoulders above the car drivers, feeling like the king or queen of the road. You’re feeling great, enjoying life and you’re untouchable.
We hate to break it to you, but The Highway Code and other motoring laws still apply to you, even if the boys and girls in blue can’t see into your cab.
At The Motorhome Holiday Company, whether you’re hiring from us or going in your own motorhome, the last thing we want is for your trip to be interrupted or cut short. We also want you and all other drivers to keep safe on the roads. So, we’re here to make it as clear as possible with a quick reminder of thirteen motoring laws that are often forgotten by motorhomers and drivers alike.
Why thirteen? Because if you’re caught doing any of these, it’s going to be a very unlucky day for you. We’re superstitious that way.
1. Don’t leave your engine running.
That thing you want to do on cold mornings, you know, starting the engine to warm the motorhome and nipping back inside for a coffee? Big no-no. The law states that you must be in control of your vehicle at all times when the engine is running. And it doesn’t count if you leave the passengers in the back while you run into the newsagents for a paper.
2. Snow belongs on the ground.
You may not leave snow on the roof of your motorhome; it must be cleared off in its entirety before you drive. Likewise, it’s also not acceptable to clear just enough snow or ice from the windscreen (and other windows) so that you can see ahead. All of it must be cleared.
3. Cruise control is not a chauffeur.
You cannot leave the motorhome on cruise control and pop into the back to grab the snacks. Not you nor any of your passengers. The law states that drivers of any vehicle may be prosecuted for carrying passengers in a manner that may result in injury. That means sit down and stay belted throughout your journey.
4. Mobile phones are your enemy.
The law is very clear on this. You must not hold your phone while you are driving or the engine is running. That includes sending texts, checking emails, resetting the satnav or using any app on your phone, even when you are stationary in a traffic jam or waiting at a red light. The penalty is a £200 fine and six points on your licence. For phone use to be legal for the driver, you must be parked in a safe place with the engine off e.g. a layby, car park or safe side road.
5. Fog lights are for extreme conditions only.
The advice given is that visibility must be seriously reduced due to fog for the use of fog lights to be legal. Generally, this means visibility of less than 100m.
6. Stop means stop.
Stop signs at junctions are orders. You must stop and apply your handbrake.
7. Box junctions are not for waiting in.
Yellow crosshatches are there to show you where not to stop. You cannot enter the box junction unless your exit road or lane is clear. You may, however, enter the box junction when you wish to turn right but are prevented from doing so only by oncoming traffic or other vehicles waiting to turn right.
8. Don’t express frustration with your horn.
According to the Highway Code, you may use your horn only when your vehicle is moving and as a warning to other motorists of your presence. Your horn must not be used as a rebuke, when your vehicle is stationary or in a built up area between 11.30pm and 7.00am. The exception is if/when another road user poses and immediate danger.
Although not covered by the law, please be particularly aware when driving around country lanes as there may be horses around bends that could bolt if startled by your horn. The rule of thumb is, don’t hit your horn; drive slower.
9. Watch the road, not the TV.
Yes, we’re including this as some motorhomes have TVs and DVDs that are visible from the driver’s seat. We don’t really need to go into more detail about this one, we just want to be clear.
10. Keep your driving licence up to date.
Are you aware that your photocard driving licence is valid for just ten years? You must renew it before it expires and every time your permanent address changes. Failure to do so could result in a £1000 fine.
11. Road tax.
The disc may have been removed from our windscreens, but every vehicle must still be taxed properly.
12. Towing in the outside lane.
If you’re towing a trailer or car behind your motorhome, or your towing a caravan behind any vehicle, you are not allowed use the outside lane. Speed limits can also differ for large vehicles, vehicles towing trailers or caravans and some motorhomes, so make sure you know if limits apply to you before you set off!
13. Pedestrians are not sport.
It doesn’t matter how tempting it is, deliberately driving through a puddle in order to soak a pedestrian is illegal and punishable by a fine of up to £5000. The offence is covered by the laws on careless driving.
Finally, here are a few points that a lot of people are unsure about, but that are actually legal – for now.
Eating, drinking & smoking.
Yes, the law does not currently prohibit you from consuming food, drink or nicotine whilst driving. However, if doing so adversely affects your attention to the road or the quality of your driving, you can be fined heavily for careless driving. Also, as of 1st October 2015, it is illegal to smoke in your vehicle if there are under eighteens present.
Yes, crazy as it is, it is currently legal to wear headphones whilst driving. But, once again, the laws on careless and dangerous driving come into effect, we would against it.
If it’s your first time driving a motorhome or caravan, we understand you might be unsure about the motoring laws that apply to you. It is important to be fully aware before you set off on your adventure so that everyone can be safe and enjoy their time on the road.
We advise having a read through The Highway Code to make sure you always stay on the right side of the law.
Motorhome Holiday Company; your (lawful) adventure starts here.