With Christmas fast approaching, many taxi and lorry drivers may be tempted to spread some holiday cheer by adorning their vehicles with festive decorations. However, amidst the jolly spirit, drivers must be aware that such decorations can result in legal consequences.
Confused.com Car Insurance has issued a warning to professional drivers, highlighting that decking out their vehicles for Christmas may potentially lead to a range of offences under the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 legislation. Failure to comply with these regulations could attract a hefty fine and penalty points on driving licences.
According to the Highway Code, not exercising proper control of a vehicle or having obstructed visibility can be classified as an offence. Maximum penalties of up to £1,000 (£2,500 for PCV or goods vehicle), discretionary disqualification, and 3 penalty points could be imposed in such cases.
Specifically, drivers face the risk of receiving a Fixed Penalty Notice if their vehicles feature blue, red, or green LED lights on the windscreen, washer jets, or number plates. In addition, the display of red lights on the front of the vehicle or any form of light emitted from the rear, excluding tail lights, indicator lights, reversing lights, and number plate lights, are also prohibited by law.
It is essential to note that any flashing lights, apart from indicators or emergency breakdown vehicle lights, while the vehicle is in motion are strictly forbidden, as outlined under the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989.
Confused.com Car Insurance also highlighted that decorations other than lights can attract penalties. If a decoration obstructs the driver's view of the road, such as covering the windscreen, a fine of £1,000 and 3 points on the driver's licence can be imposed.
The aim of these regulations is to ensure road safety and minimise distractions to drivers, particularly during a season that already sees increased traffic and potential hazards. While spreading joy and festive spirit is undoubtedly enjoyable, it is imperative to strike a balance between celebrating the season and upholding road safety and legality.
Louise Thomas, Motor Insurance Expert at confused.com car insurance, said: “Lots of us like to liven up our surroundings with shiny decorations and attractive colours during the festive period. It’s worth noting, however, that despite the holiday season, we still need to give driving the importance it deserves.
“There are several laws you could breach should you decorate your vehicle this Christmas. This is not only bad for you, as you could get a fine or penalty points, but breaking these laws makes you a danger to other drivers.
“Christmas lights often include red or flashing lights. Remember, you’re not allowed to display red lights on the front of your vehicle or the windscreen. You can’t use flashing lights (other than your indicators and emergency signals) on your vehicle while in motion either.
“Any decorations that cover your vehicle's windscreen or prevent you from seeing the road ahead is also a serious offence. Such decorations could also invalidate your insurance because this could be considered dangerous driving.
“It’s unlikely that an odd bit of tinsel would invalidate your vehicle insurance. But you must be aware of and comply with the law. Do not let any decorations obstruct your vision. Do not set up lights in the wrong places or the wrong colours. Do not do anything that could impact anyone’s safety.”