From driving without shoes to the MOT renewal ‘grace period’—we debunk them all!

You’ve probably heard worse than we’re going to include here (in fact, we’d love to hear them if you’re willing to share) but every driver has had an argument about or been subject to someone telling them a driving myth that simply isn’t true.

It’s illegal to eat while you’re driving – FALSE!

Any confusion here could well be because eating while driving can be linked to careless driving and driving without due care and attention. If you are involved in an accident, and you lost concentration for any reason, then that will earn you the associated fine and prosecution.

Let’s say, you were struggling to unwrap your pre-packed sandwiches from the motorway services, or to open a packet of sweets, and you drifted out of your lane and into another vehicle causing a collision. That’s careless driving and liable for prosecution.

If you’re eating a Mars bar or drinking your morning coffee while keeping 100% concentration on traffic? As long as there are no untoward repercussions, you’re entirely within your rights to enjoy them.

It’s illegal to drive barefoot, wearing flip-flops or stilettoes – FALSE!

There is no law to say what shoes you should or shouldn’t wear while driving a car. However, you must be in control of your vehicle at all times. So if you choose footwear that doesn’t allow you the complete control you need, you can be booked for it.

If you’re involved in a crash because you lost control of your car, and later a flip-flop was found trapped under the brake pedal or that the heel broke off your 6” stilettoes, it’s more than likely that you’ll be punished accordingly for your footwear choice.

It’s legal to drive during the MOT (overdue) grace period – FALSE!

Ok, you’ve had one of those “When does my car MOT run out?” moments, and you realised that the date was 2 weeks ago. But that’s ok because Jeff from the pub told you there’s an MOT out of date grace period. That’s right, isn’t it?

Is there a grace period for an MOT? Kind of, but not really. You get a full month of overlap to have your MOT carried out. That isn’t a grace period though; it’s the month before your MOT expires—not after.

If you have your MOT carried out within 30 days of its expiry, your new certificate will still have 12 full months from the date of the original certificate’s expiry. So there’s absolutely no reason to leave it to the last minute.

The driving without an MOT grace period is a complete myth. The MOT due rules dictate that the only time you can drive without an MOT is if you’ve pre-booked an MOT test and you’re driving the vehicle to the garage. You need to have everything in place before you do because you must provide proof if you get stopped by the police on the way. How long after the MOT is due can this be done? For as long as you’ve had your car has stored off the road. But remember, you might not be able to insure a car without an MOT, and without insurance, you can’t legally store or drive your car on the road.

It’s illegal to use your mobile phone at a petrol station – FALSE!

This one’s nearly as old as your grandma. The Petroleum Equipment Institute long since debunked the myth that a mobile phone interferes with the pumps to give false readings when delivering petrol.

That’s a shame though. Especially considering current fuel prices!

It’s still safe to drive after drinking 2 pints – FALSE!

Drink driving limits will vary from person to person. To fail the drink-drive test, you must have over 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. Nobody can accurately dictate a set volume that they can consume to arrive at this measure.

The factors to affect individual readings are many: weight, build, height, age, sex—all of these will have an impact on the amount of alcohol it takes to push you over the limit.

The safest way to stay within the law is to leave the alcohol alone if you’re going to drive. It really isn’t worth the risk.

There’s a 10% waver for driving over the speed limit – FALSE!

The National Police Chief’s Council recommends that their officers should only hand out speeding tickets when drivers go over the limit by 10% + 2mph. So for 30mph, the acceptable speed would be (30 + 30/10 + 2) = 35mph.

However, it’s only a recommendation designed to take into account that not all speedometers are 100% accurate all of the time. The law states that anything above the speed limit for each road is breaking the rules.

If you get caught doing 33mph, 32mph or even 31mph, you can still be booked. Just keep your fingers crossed that the office in charge of the situation didn’t get out of the wrong side of the bed that morning.

Using a Sat Nav to drive is illegal – FALSE!

While using a sat-nav system isn’t illegal, how you use one could be.

The laws in question include those around obstructing your view (with screen mounted options) and by operating the device by hand while driving.

Once you’ve set your course, you shouldn’t operate the device again unless you pull into a safe area. If you have to reset your course, and you’re involved in an accident while doing so, then you will be prosecuted for careless driving.

You can legally use your mobile phone when stationary in traffic – FALSE!

Here’s the golden rule: if your engine is turned on, it’s illegal to operate a handheld phone.

Headphones, hands-free and speaker options free up your hands while driving, so it’s okay to utilise these functions while driving, but you must still be in complete control of the vehicle at all times.

We all know that talking on the phone, however you operate it, can be a distraction, and if it’s shown that that’s the reason for a collision or an incident, then you can still be prosecuted for it.

You can drive without a seatbelt if you’re just going down the street – FALSE!

There are exceptions to driving without a seatbelt, but members of the public driving short distances isn’t one of them.

  • You may remove your seatbelt when reversing or supervising a learner driver who is reversing.
  • You may drive without a seatbelt if the vehicle is being used for police, fire and rescue services.
  • If you drive a goods delivery vehicle with no more than 50 metres between stops.
  • A taxi driver ‘plying for hire’ or carrying passengers may remove their seatbelt.

There are also medical exemptions, for which you’ll be awarded a certificate. Being pregnant or disabled doesn’t make you exempt—so buckle up!

Fuzzy dice hanging from your rearview mirror will fail your MOT – HANG ON! THAT ONE’S TRUE!

Anything over 4cm impeding your view through the windscreen can be considered an obstruction and liable for prosecution. 4cm isn’t much bigger than a 50p coin so those fluffy dice? They’re definitely a no-no.

Take them down. And stop embarrassing your children.

About Fixter

Fixter is revolutionising the car maintenance industry, one repair at a time. Fixter was founded to make car maintenance as easy as booking a taxi. Digital, transparent and stress-free, with world-class customer service. Since launching in Manchester in 2017, Fixter has expanded to more than 100 cities across the UK and provided thousands of car owners with honest, convenient and affordable car repair services.