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COMMON DRIVING MYTHS: Is it illegal to drive with interior lights on?

Updated: Apr 13, 2023



There are many myths surrounding driving in the UK, and sometimes it can be difficult to know what is true and what is not.

To help, the team at The AA has looked to dispel some of the most common myths about driving in the UK, from driving with your interior lights on, to driving in Uggs.

It’s very possible that at some point as a child, your parents told you that turning the car's inside lights on while driving was a crime. However, you are not alone. The AA has revealed that Google searches for ‘is it illegal to drive with interior lights on’ have increased by 222% in the UK in the last three months.


Here is what the UK's largest motoring organisation, The AA, had to say about this driving myth:


“It’s something which lots of people think is a fact but there’s no law against driving with your interior lights on. But at night it can be distracting or interfere with your vision by reflecting off of the inside of the windscreen.
"If you’re pulled over and it’s decided that your light was a probable cause in any bad driving, you can expect to get a careless driving charge though.
"There are plenty of myths and misconceptions around what you can and can’t do whilst driving. The AA reminds drivers that the most important thing to remember when you're on roads in the UK is that you must obey the Highway Code.
"While driving rules are constantly updated, it is important motorists understand the current regulations in place. Not only will this reduce unexpected fines or penalties from failing to comply, but it will make UK roads a safer place.”

With this in mind, to help inform drivers, The AA has separated fact from fiction by debunking some of the most common driving myths.


Motoring experts debunk the UK’s most common driving myths


Is it illegal to eat and drive?

No, there's no specific law against eating while driving. You're not going to be immediately pulled over if you’re seen taking a bite out of food - unless that bite stops you paying attention to the task at hand.


The AA’s poll found that 1 in 10 of us eat while we drive. If you do, make sure your eating habits don't distract you behind the wheel. If the police think you aren't in proper control, you can be charged with careless driving. This carries a maximum penalty of £5,000, 3 to 9 points on your licence and a discretionary driving disqualification.


Is it illegal to drink soft drinks and coffee while driving?

Just like with eating, there’s no law against drinking a soft drink while driving if you aren’t distracted by it. So, if you’re driving with a hot coffee cup, keep the lid on. Any sudden spills could be enough to cause you to lose control of the car and you could end up with a careless driving fine - as well as a burnt lap.


Is it legal to smoke and drive?

It’s illegal to smoke in any private vehicle with anyone under 18 present and in company vehicles or vans. If you use your own private vehicle for business occasionally, you're allowed to smoke in it. If the car has been given to you by your work for the purpose of work, you can't.


It’s not against the law to smoke in the car in any other circumstances, but the Highway Code specifically lists smoking as a distraction that can land you with a careless driving charge.


Is it true I can drive 10% over the speed limit without breaking the law?

In theory, you break the law if you drive even 1mph over the speed limit. But you won’t get a ticket because speedometers aren’t always 100% accurate, so police allow for this. Plus, it’s not safe to drive with your eyes glued to the speedo. AA President Edmund King advises that it’s better to keep your eyes on the road.


The National Police Chief’s Council recommends only giving a speeding ticket if you top the limit by 10% plus 2. So that would mean driving 35mph in a 30mph zone. However, this is up to individual police officers to decide, so there’s no guarantee they’ll let you off.


The best way to make sure you don’t get caught by a police officer or speed camera is to drive carefully and try to stick to the limit.

Is driving in heels, sliders, uggs or barefoot illegal?

When choosing which shoes you drive in, you need to be able to operate the pedals safely without your footwear - or lack of - making it difficult.


Rule 97 of the Highway Code makes it clear that drivers must have "footwear and clothing which does not prevent (them) using the controls in the correct manner". So while it's not illegal to drive in heels or sliders, it's suggested you drive in more sensible shoes and change when you get to your destination.


Can listening to music too loud land me a fine?

Rule 148 of the Highway Code states that safe driving and riding needs concentration, so all distractions should be avoided.


Listening to loud music is included as a potential distraction. Therefore, it’s strongly recommended that you avoid doing anything that could slow your reaction times and cause an otherwise avoidable accident.


Can items dangling from my rear-view mirror fail my MOT?

Yes, they can. Obstruction of more than 4 cm could land you with a failed MOT. But realistically you’ll probably be told by your mechanic to remove the item attached to your rear-view mirror before the MOT takes place.

Our survey revealed, 5% of drivers had things dangling from their rear-view mirrors which could create a blind spot. The top 5 items spotted dangling in the windscreen:


  1. Air fresheners (mainly trees)

  2. Teddy bears (from small to 1 foot in length)

  3. Miniature footballs

  4. Beads and rosary beads

  5. Coats of arms (mainly football clubs).


A spokesperson for the AA said: “There are plenty of myths and misconceptions around what you can and can’t do whilst driving. The AA reminds drivers that the most important thing to remember when you're on roads in the UK is that you must obey the Highway Code.


"While driving rules are constantly updated, it is important motorists understand the current regulations in place. Not only will this reduce unexpected fines or penalties from failing to comply, but it will make UK roads a safer place.”

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