Road And Transport Law In The UK

by Criminal Defence Blawg on October 9, 2012

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The UK’s road and transport law is long and complex, consisting of various different acts and regulations. It may be difficult to ensure you are keeping to the right side of the law with so many different codes of conduct to consider which is why; hopefully, this guide should break it down into slightly easier chunks of the most important parts of the law.

Road and transport law in the UK: The Highway Code

Everyone who has taken their driving test, or is studying for their test, will have had a look at the highway code at least briefly. The Highway Code is the official guide for road users in Great Britain, consisting of 306 rules and regulations for those who use the roads such as car owners, cyclists and even pedestrians.

Although not all rules are technically legally binding, failure in complying with the Highway Code can be used as evidence in any court case under the Road Traffic Act 1988 which says:

“A failure on the part of a person to observe a provision of the Highway Code shall not itself render that person liable to criminal proceedings of any kind…”

However, it goes on to say that it can be used to establish whether there is any liability, basically it can be used as evidence. The latest edition of the Highway Code was published in 2007 and so further information can be found by purchasing a copy of the book, or in digital format as well.

Road and transport law in the UK: Road Traffic Act

The Road Traffic Act contains the main laws regarding road users, the main document being the 1988 Act, although this is updated on a regular basis. In the Road Traffic Act the word ‘road’ applies to all roads in Great Britain, although some exceptions do apply.

The word road generally will include bridleways, cycle tracks, and footpaths and in some cases even private land such as car parks (especially in the case of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol).

Some of the main areas that the Road Traffic Act covers are:

1  Driving offences such as reckless driving, or careless and inconsiderate driving

2  Driving, or being in charge of a vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs

3  Motor racing on public ways and the regulation of motoring events on public ways

4  Protective measures such as seat belts in cars and protective headgear for motorcyclists

5  Parking, driving or stopping in dangerous areas or leaving your vehicle in dangerous positions.

6  Prohibition of driving a vehicle anywhere other than on roads

7  Drivers to comply with traffic signs and directions

8  Plus many others

These are just some of the parts of the Road Traffic Act, all of which can be classed as offences and you can be seen as a guilty person for breaking any of these laws. Each section of the Road Traffic Act goes into further detail about each offence, ensuring that you know the rules and safety measures when operating a vehicle on the road.

How to keep on the right side of the UK road and transport law

Breaking any of the road and transport laws in the UK can be very dangerous as you can face unlimited fines and even prison sentences if found guilty. To ensure you stay on the right side of the UK road and transport law it is important that you keep up to date with the most recent Road Traffic Act and the Highway Code.

If you are worried that you may be breaking the law, or   have recently been arrested for a crime on the road then it is suggested that   you seek legal advice right away. Ensuring you have legal advice regarding the Road Traffic Act will help you become better positioned to fight your case, whether it is an accident due to ignorance or something more serious.

Road and transport law in the UK involves a lot of common sense and a lot of what you were taught when first learning to drive is all that you will need to know to keep on the right side of the law. However, sometimes a lack of information or knowledge can see you breaking laws you didn’t even know existed.

Make sure you keep yourself informed of the laws that surround you as a road user, as well as seeking legal advice if you feel that you have broken any of the Road Traffic Act or similar codes of conduct. If you need any further advice contact Birketts in Cambridge who have a specialist Transport Law practice.

Image Credits: Sarah Joy 1 & Paul Townsend 2

Criminal Defence Blawg

Criminal Defence Blawg

Criminal law blogger at CriminalDefenceBlawg
Criminal Defence Blawg is a criminal law blog, sharing legal expertise and intelligence from the UK, US, Australia and beyond. Contributions from those who share great legal information. Want to get published? Contact us today.
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