How good is your Highway Code knowledge?

From road signs to the drink drive limit, here are 20 rules you may have forgotten

Rules and regulations

Drivers refresh their skills at the wheel every time they take to the road. But how many of us ever brush up on the rules and regulations found in the Highway Code?

As the so-called safety manual for drivers, the Highway Code doesn’t just explain the laws of the road; it provides a wealth of advice on how drivers – and other road users – can stay safe whenever they are out and about.

Some of the Highway Code is backed by law. This means that road users must explicitly follow the regulations that are detailed. You’ll be able to identify such sections, because the language is definitive, using wording like ‘MUST’ or ‘MUST NOT’, rather than ‘should’ or ‘should not’.

It’s useful for brushing up on the many road signs that you’ll encounter on every journey.


Other sections provide information on dealing with pedestrian crossings, parking, filtering into a joining road, bus lanes and even the regulations around using and fitting the correct child seats. The code has been updated continually since its inception in 1931. Failing to follow these guidelines could land drivers in hot water with the police or their car insurer. So take a moment to brush up and stay safe on the road, with these 20 Highway Code rules.

1. Anything to declare?

Rule 90

The Highway Code makes clear that motorists must ensure they are fit to drive; any health condition that is likely to affect someone’s driving or riding must be reported to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

2. Is your eyesight good enough for driving?

Rule 92

A driver must be able to read a vehicle number plate, in good daylight, from 20 metres, but many people suffer from poor eyesight or experience deteriorating eyesight as they age.

Anyone with glasses or contact lenses must wear them at all times when driving, and the Association of Optometrists suggests motorists take an eye test every decade.

3. Do you know what to do when your car is parked at night?

Rule 249

If your car is parked at night and on a road or in a lay-by with a speed limit greater than 30mph, it must display parking lights. Many new Hondas, including the latest Civic, display the local speed limit so the driver is in no doubt about the restrictions when driving - or parking.

4. Don’t leave an engine running

Rule 123

We’ve all seen it: the driver parked by the school gates or outside a train station who leaves their car’s engine running. Yet it’s against the law to do this.

A car can’t be parked with its engine running unnecessarily on a public road. The Highway Code allows for a couple of minutes of grace, but suggests switching off engines to reduce emissions and noise pollution.

5. What’s the difference between single and double yellow lines?

Rule 238

Single yellow lines cannot be parked on during restricted times, as shown on nearby parking signs or zone entry signs.

Whereas double yellow lines mean no stopping and waiting at any time, and no parking signs need to be displayed.

6. When can you cross diagonal stripes or chevrons?

Rule 130

For drivers, The White Stripes aren’t just playing on the radio. They’re diagonal stripes or chevrons painted on the road, used to separate traffic lanes or protect traffic turning right.

If a broken white line borders an area of road, you should not enter it unless it is necessary and you can see that it’s safe to do so. If the area is marked with chevrons and bordered by solid white lines then drivers may not enter it unless in an emergency.

7. Know the speed limit when towing on the motorway

Rule 123

The speed limit for any car towing a caravan or trailer on the motorway is 60mph. So even if your large 4x4 feels up to the job, don’t be tempted to go any faster. You could end up incurring a fine and penalty points on your licence.

8. What’s the stopping distance for a car travelling at 70mph?

Rule 126

The stopping distance of a car driving at 70mph depends on many factors: from the driver’s attention level to the car’s stopping ability, the road surface to the weather conditions.

However, the Highway Code says that the typical stopping distance for a car travelling at 70mph is 96 metres (315 feet).

It’s why another piece of driving advice from the code is so important to follow: allow a two-second gap between you and the vehicle ahead, by using a fixed point like a sign post or street light to count out the margin.

Alternatively, technology can lend a helping hand. Honda Sensing is a suite of systems that helps drivers stay safe on the road. Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control both maintains a desired speed and adjusts it to allow for other vehicles. It will even bring the car to a stop and pull away again, ideal for when driving in traffic.*

* See Point 12

9. Try your brakes after driving through water

Rule 121

When the heavens open and standing water builds up on roads, brakes get wet and that means their performance can be less effective.

So after driving through deep water or large puddles, gently try the brakes when it’s safe to do so, which will dry them out. Many modern cars will do this automatically – and as good as imperceptibly - for you.

10. Leave a generous gap if traffic stops in a tunnel

Rule 126

If you have to stop in a tunnel, leave at least a five-metre gap between you and the vehicle in front.

Experience Honda Sensing

11. Bin it! Don’t throw food out of the car

Rule 147

We all know we shouldn’t throw litter out of a vehicle, but how many of us have thrown an apple core or banana skin out of a car window?

The law prohibits it, not only because it is littering but also because cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians are at risk of injury.

12. Don’t be distracted by gadgets and gizmos

Rule 150

In an age where the autonomous car is fast-approaching, the basic principles of driving remain ever prevalent: every driver must exercise proper control of their vehicle at all times.

Drivers should not allow sat nav systems, audio players or connected smart phones to distract them. And should bear in mind that driver assistance systems, such as adaptive cruise control or lane departure warnings are only to be used to assist, and not be used as an excuse to not be alert at all times when driving.

13. How to join a motorway

Rule 259

Are you up to speed with the simple rules around joining a motorway? If not, refresh your memory.

When joining a motorway you will normally approach it from a slip road on the left or an adjoining motorway. Solid white lines that separate lanes should not be crossed, and you can’t use the hard shoulder to try and get the jump on slow traffic.

And if the slip road continues as an extra lane on the motorway, remain on it rather than try to change lanes and move across to the right.

14. Give cyclists and motorcyclists space

Rule 213

With no protective cocoon around them, no airbags and just two wheels on the road, cyclists and motorcyclists are some of the most vulnerable people using our roads, especially in the winter when it’s often dark and the roads are slippery.

That’s why the Highway Code says motorists must give them plenty of room and be prepared for any sudden changes of direction they may have to make. And bikers should make sure they have the skills and awareness to drive defensively. For refresher riding courses, discover what's on offer at your nearest Honda Approved School of Motorcycling.

15. Look out for Home Zones and Quiet Lanes

Rule 218

To help bring communities together and keep them safe, new areas are being designated Home Zones or Quiet Lanes, to warn drivers to take extra care when passing through.

Look out for signs indicating when you’re entering or leaving these areas, and drive slowly and carefully, allowing people extra time to make space for you to pass safely.

16. Clear ice and snow from the windows, lights and bodywork

Rule 229

When winter weather grips the nation, drivers need to know how to prepare their car before setting off. All snow and ice must be cleared from all windows, lights have to be clear and number plates can’t be obscured. Also take the time to clear the mirrors, and use a soft-head brush or broom to remove snow from the bonnet and roof, so that it doesn’t restrict your visibility or fall into the path of other road users.

17. Check before you open a door

Rule 239

Can you honestly say you always check it is safe to open your car’s door? In addition to checking for oncoming traffic in both directions before pulling at the release handle, some driving instructors advise drivers to open their door from inside the car by using their left hand.

This technique forces the driver to twist their body, giving them a better view of any approaching traffic.

18. What to do if you are involved in a collision

Rule 286

If you are involved in an accident that causes damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property, you have to stop and provide your contact details – and those of the vehicle owner – to any third party involved in the accident, or anyone that has reasonable grounds for requiring them, such as a property owner or witness.

19. How to alert others when your car is broken down

Rule 274

If your vehicle breaks down on all but motorways (see below) it is best practice to place a warning triangle at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind the stranded vehicle. By doing so, approaching traffic has advance warning of a hazard.

Which begs the question: do you carry a warning triangle?

20. Don’t use a warning triangle on a motorway

Rule 275

The hard shoulder of a motorway is a dangerous place to be.

Attempting to place a warning triangle behind any vehicle that’s broken down is considered dangerous; instead, the Highway Code recommends that you turn on the hazard lights, ensure all passengers exit from the left side of the car, have them move away from the carriageway and hard shoulder, and alert authorities using an emergency telephone.

At the edge of the hard shoulder, blue and white marker posts feature arrows pointing in the direction of the nearest emergency telephone.