5 things you shouldn’t do while driving

We all know not to drink and drive or use our mobile phones. But what about smoking, or splashing your mates as they walk past a puddle?

amy smith
Amy Smith
Updated 10 August 2022  | 2 min read

We all know not to drink and drive or use our mobile phones. But what about smoking, or splashing your mates as they walk past a puddle?

We did a survey to find out what motorists are getting up to behind the wheel.[1] GoCompare’s motoring expert, Ryan Fulthorpe said on the research, “We were shocked to see how high some of these statistics were, and how many people admitted to doing certain things such as using their phone, driving while hungover and checking their smartwatch.”

Read on to find out how these acts could affect your wallet, your licence and your car insurance.

Don’t splash pedestrians

Our survey found that 31% of drivers have splashed pedestrians with rainwater and a further 23% thought it wouldn’t get you in trouble with the law.

But, they’d be wrong. It’s actually illegal as it’s considered as driving “without reasonable consideration for other persons.”

You could get a £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence if caught, but there is also a maximum penalty of a £5,000 fine to watch out for.

Resist checking your mobile at a drive through

Yes, this is illegal too, yet 35% of people surveyed admitted to using their mobile at a drive through, with 23% not realising it’s illegal.

The law is that you can’t hold or use a phone, sat-nav or any other device that can send or receive data while driving (or riding a motorcycle).

You can use your phone to pay at a drive through, but if you’re queuing with the engine running you shouldn’t have your phone in your hands for general scrolling around, messaging or calls.

Drivers need to give the road their full concentration while driving, so if you’re doing anything that means your attention is taken away… that’s when you could find yourself with a fine and penalty points on your licence.
Ryan Fulthorpe - GoCompare car insurance expert

Avoid using your smartwatch too

Out of those surveyed, a third (33%) said they have checked their smartwatch while driving and 28% said that they thought it was legal to do so.

For those drivers who are caught, the rules are the same as if you’re caught using your mobile device behind the wheel or for careless driving – a £100 fine and three penalty points.

There’s no rule that specifically says using a smartwatch in the driver’s seat is illegal, but it’s all about the risks associated with taking your eyes off the road.

AvoidDon’t light up

23% of people admitted to smoking while driving, and 49% of people think it’s perfectly legal.

Smoking and driving isn’t illegal in itself, but it is against the law to smoke with under 18s in the car – whether you’re a driver or a passenger.

This is mainly due to the effects of smoking on health, and could see you being fined £50 if caught.

AvoidTaking a quick bite or sip is risky

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 62% of those surveyed admitted to eating behind the wheel, with 33% sure it was legal to do so. Similarly, 48% or respondents said they took a quick gulp of their drink, 26% believing this to be legal.

So while eating and (non-alcoholic!) drinking isn’t technically illegal, careless or dangerous driving is, and that’s what you could be fined for – wave goodbye to £100 and say hello to three penalty points on your licence.

Ryan advises, “Even if you’re unsure about the letter of the law, you should always think twice about doing anything behind the wheel that isn’t strictly driving.

“In short, if it takes your eyes away from the road – just wait until you are at the end of your journey or pull over somewhere safe where you won’t be a danger to others.”

It’s better to be safe than sorry.

[1]In order to collect the data used in this report, we conducted a survey of 2,079 UK residents via Maru Blue. The survey ran on 5-8th August and all respondents were selected at random. All statistics featured on this page are sourced via this survey unless otherwise stated.