Home » In-car safety » Safety FAQs

Safety FAQs

1. When should I stop driving?

There is no legal age for you to stop driving. The responsibility lies with you to determine when it is right for you to stop. However, don’t wait for an accident to convince you to stop. If your reactions are slower, you feel less in control and more stressed when driving then it could be time for you to stop.

You may have to stop driving if you have any of the medical conditions listed in the DVLA leaflet ‘What you need to know about driving licences’ under ‘the law and the older driver’.

2. When do I have to renew my licence?

All drivers must renew their licence at the age of 70, and every three years thereafter. See renewing your licence for information on how to do this.

3. What should I do if I’m concerned about my fitness to drive?

If you’re concerned about your fitness to drive you should consult your doctor.

4. I need to drive to keep my independence

This isn’t true. If many of your car journeys are local then the amount of money you spend each year on taxing, insuring, servicing, maintaining and fuelling your car could pay for local taxi journeys. You might be surprised but you could actually end up saving money!

5. Will I have to stop driving if I have mobility problems?

Not necessarily, in fact, a simple modification to your car could make driving easier. You can find out about mobility adaptations at www.mobility-centres.org.uk

6. Do I have to tell the DVLA about a disability?

Yes. It is your responsibility to notify the DVLA if you have a medical condition which has lasted for more than three months. For more information about this visit www.dvla.gov.uk

7. What is the Blue Badge Scheme?

The blue badge scheme is a national system of parking concessions for disabled drivers and passengers. It enables badge holders to park near to their destination.

If you live in North Yorkshire and you think you might be eligible for the Blue Badge please contact North Yorkshire County Council on 08458 727374 and ask for a copy of the leaflet detailing who is eligible for the Blue Badge.

If you are already a badge holder and you have a query please contact the Blue Badge Helpline on 0207 944 2914 or email blue.badge@dft.gsi.gov.uk

8. Will my car insurance premiums reduce if I undertake an advanced driver course?

Some insurance companies do offer a reduction in insurance premiums to drivers who have undergone advanced training.

9. What is the legal alcohol limit when driving?

The legal alcohol limit for drivers in the UK is:

  • 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or
  • 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, or
  • 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine

10. What happens if you kill someone whilst drink-driving?

If you kill someone while drink-driving you face 14 years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, disqualification from driving for at least two years and a mandatory extended driving test.

11. What if you are caught drink-driving?

If you are caught drink-driving you face 6 months’ imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 and disqualification from driving for at least 12 months (three years if convicted twice in 10 years).

12. What if you are caught drug-driving?

If you are caught drug driving, whether you are on illegal, prescribed or over the counter drugs, you face up to 6 months’ imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 and a minimum one year driving ban.

13. Does drug driving legislation only apply to illegal drugs?

No, both illegal and legal drugs can affect judgement and impair ability to drive safely. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you as to whether any prescribed or over-the-counter medication you are taking may affect your driving.

14. How can the police tell if a driver has taken drugs?

Police undergo special training to spot drug drivers and they can also conduct a FIT (Field Impairment Test) to judge whether a person is unfit to drive.

15. Can the police force a drug test on suspected drug drivers

Yes, the police can force the FIT test on individuals they believe to be drug driving.

16. What are speed limits for?

Speed limits ensure that all road users are safe on the road. Speed limits are legal limits and, if exceeded, can have severe consequences.

As a guide, unless signs state otherwise, the following speed limits apply to car drivers:

  • Motorways – 70 mph
  • Dual carriageways – 70 mph
  • Single carriageways – 60 mph
  • Street-lit carriageways – 30 mph

The speed limits are different for other vehicles. Please click here for details.

17. What are the penalties for speeding?

If you are caught speeding you will face a minimum £60 fine and 3 penalty points. This can be increased to a £2,000 fine, six points and a discretionary ban for higher end speeding.

18. Can I use a mobile phone while driving?

No. using a mobile phone whilst driving is against the law and you should never do it.

19. What are the penalties of using a mobile phone while driving?

If you are caught using a mobile phone while driving you will receive a fixed penalty of £60 and 3 penalty points on your licence. If the case goes to court you could get a fine of £1,000.

20. What happens if my employer rings me while I’m driving?

No matter who is calling you, you should never answer your phone whilst driving. Find a suitable place to stop and then call the person back if you need to. If your employer calls you whilst they know you are driving and you have a crash they could be prosecuted.

21. When did using a seat belt become law?

It became compulsory to use a seat belt in the front of vehicles in 1983, for children to use a seat belt in the back in 1989 and for adults to wear a seat belt in the back in 1991.

22. Can I be prosecuted for not using a seat belt?

Yes. The fixed penalty for not wearing a seat belt is £60 but if you are convicted in court the fine can be up to £500.

23. Do passengers in the back of a car have to wear a seat belt?

Yes, seat belts must be used in both the front and the back. Back seat passengers can be thrown forward onto the person in front of them which can kill or seriously injure them. Between eight and 15 front seat passengers in cars are killed each year by back seat passengers not using seat belts.

24. If I’m travelling as a passenger can I carry a baby or child on my lap?

No. You must never carry a baby or child on your lap and don’t let any of your passengers do this. Babies and children must be in the correct restraint at all times, if they are not and the vehicle stops suddenly, or is involved in a crash, they will be in serious danger.

25. Can rear facing child restraints be used in front passenger seats if the car has an airbag?

No. Rear-facing child restraints must not be used in front passenger seats which have an active frontal airbag fitted. A child restrained in the front passenger seat will be at risk of being seriously or fatally injured if the airbag does inflate because they will be too close to the dashboard.

26. Where can I find out about in-car safety for children?

To find out about in-car safety for children visit www.childcarseats.org.uk which will provide you with information on the following:

  • Carrying children safely
  • Choosing the correct child seat and the various types available
  • Using the child seat correctly
  • The law regarding child seats
  • Safety standards
  • Local help and advice available.

27. How do I know if my child car seat is fitted correctly?

Some retailers offer a service demonstrating how to fit a child seat. Ask to be shown and then make sure it is fitted correctly every trip.

You can also speak to your local road safety officer about fitting checks in your area.

By following the manufacturer’s instructions carefully you should be able to ensure the car seat is fit correctly.

28. Can I buy a second hand child seat or booster seat?

It is not recommended that you buy a second hand child seat or booster seat as you do not know its history; it may have been involved in a collision or dropped.

29. Do passengers have to use seat belts in mini-buses, buses or coaches?

It is compulsory for adults and children to wear a seat belt in minibuses under 2.54 tonnes unladen weight. If available, children aged three years’ and above must use an appropriate child seat in these vehicles, but there is no obligation on anyone to provide them.

Passengers aged 14 years’ and above must use seat belts in all buses and coaches weighing over 2.54 tonnes in weight when unladen.

30. What if there are not enough seat belts for all passengers in a vehicle?

The law doesn’t currently prevent you from carrying more adult passengers than there are seat belts. However, children up to 135cms tall must use child restraints with few exceptions, which means they must use the seats in the vehicle that have seat belts to secure their restraints. This can limit carrying capacity.

31. Do taxi drivers have to use seat belts?

For security reasons, in case a passenger should attack them, licensed taxi drivers and private hire drivers have an exception while carrying paying passengers. Licensed taxi drivers are also exempt while answering a call for hire.

32. Why shouldn’t children wear adult seat belts?

Adult seat belts are designed for people with adult bone structure. By using child seats and booster seats children are in the right position to use the seat belt correctly.

33. Do disabled people have to wear a seat belt?

Yes, although disabled drivers or passengers may need to use specially adapted belts. If you are disabled contact your local mobility centre for advice.

34. Do I have to wear a seat belt if my car is equipped with airbags?

Yes. Airbags are designed to reduce severe head and chest injuries in crashes but because of the speed and force that the airbag inflates you should always use a seat belt too. It is also important not to sit too close to the steering wheel/dashboard – allow at least 10inches/25cms.

Because airbag systems differ across car manufacturers you should always follow the specific advice from the manufacturer.

35. Do pregnant women have to wear a seat belt?

Yes, although it may be uncomfortable it is essential that pregnant women wear a seat belt.

For comfort the lap strap can be pulled across the hips and fit under the bump and then the diagonal strap can be placed between the breasts and around the bump.

For more information about seat belt use during pregnancy please download the leaflet ‘Buckle up for Baby’.

36. When are you exempt from wearing a seat belt?

In the following circumstances you are exempt from wearing a seat belt:

  • If you are undertaking a manoeuvre which includes reversing, including if you are supervising a learner driver when undertaking a manoeuvre which includes reversing.
  • If you are a driver or passenger of a goods vehicle undertaking deliveries or collections provided you travel less than 50 metres between stops.
  • If you are a driver or passenger in a vehicle being used for police and fire rescue service purposes.
  • If you are a driver of a licensed taxi while it is used for seeking hire or answering a call for hire or carrying a paying customer
  • Drivers of licensed private hire vehicles when they are carrying a paying passenger
  • If you are a passenger in a vehicle (not the driver) being used under a trade license and who is investigating a mechanical fault
  • If you are a disabled driver or passenger who uses a special needs restraint and you make use of the restraint instead of the seat belt
  • If you are a driver or passenger who shouldn’t wear a seat belt on medical grounds. Your doctor will issue you with a ‘certificate of exemption from compulsory seat belt wearing’ which must be kept with you and produced should the police ask to see it.

37. I have a medical condition and don’t think I should use a seat belt. What should I do?

If you think you shouldn’t be using a seat belt on medical grounds you should consult your doctor. He/she may be able to warrant you with a ‘Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat belt Wearing’.

For more information download the Medical Exemption from Compulsory Seat belt Wearing – Guidance for Medical Practitioners. You may be entitled to help with the cost of medical examinations for a medical exemption certificate if you are claiming certain benefits.