Martin Lewis issues warning for driving licence scams
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When driving in the winter, motorists may accidentally be breaking the law, especially when transporting a lot of Christmas presents or even a tree. Experts consistently urge drivers to make sure they can see clearly out of all the windows and blind spots of their vehicle.
This is particularly relevant if drivers are moving home from university or travelling back for Christmas, when cars may be full of belongings and other items.
Before setting off on any festive trips, drivers should double-check that there aren’t too many presents piled up in the boot or that the Christmas tree isn’t blocking the view.
Whether driving back from some last-minute gift shopping, travelling over the country to visit loved ones or driving with a Christmas tree in the back, it’s important that all drivers stay aware of how to drive safely this festive period.
The Highway Code states that drivers must not overload their vehicles and nothing can be sticking out of the car dangerously; it must be secured down.
The same code, Rule 98, also applies to drivers towing caravans or trailers, with some looking to use their leisure vehicle to get away for the holidays.
To check the weight restrictions on a vehicle, motorists can check the manual or it may be displayed on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door.
Overloading the vehicle is not only dangerous and illegal, but it also will likely cause long-term damage to the brakes and suspension of vehicles.
If a Christmas tree will not fit inside the car and sticks out slightly, then it is advisable to attach something reflective to the end so other road users are aware – but the tree cannot block any vision for the driver.
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Tim Alcock, from LeaseCar and LeaseElectricCar, suggested that drivers should ensure they can always see out of their windows and are being careful when driving in the winter.
He said: “We all know how difficult it can be to actually pack everything up in your car when you’re off on a long journey to visit your loved ones over Christmas.
“There are presents which are big and awkwardly sized and expensive, fragile gifts too.
“Alongside that, there are suitcases for overnight stays filled with thick warm coats and jumpers that surprisingly take up a lot of room.
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“But no matter how much you and your family may want to squeeze everything into the car, the driver must ensure that the car doesn’t break any weight limits, including limits from the roof rack too.”
Earlier this year, motorists of the heaviest SUVs and electric cars could unwittingly be breaking the law if they load their vehicles up with heavy occupants and luggage, based on new research.
The heaviest SUVs on sale today weigh over 2.7 tonnes, but by adding four passengers and their luggage these vehicles could weigh over 3.5 tonnes, at which point a normal ‘Category B’ car driving licence becomes invalid.
Because of this, the motorist would be required to have a Category C1 driving licence, according to carwow’s investigation.
Loading these cars above those gross limits would be breaking the law, with drivers risking a fine of £300 and three penalty points.
These are entry-level HGV (heavy goods vehicle) licences, requiring a separate driving test and allowing motorists to drive vehicles weighing up to 7.5 tonnes.
Mr Alcock added: “As tempting as it might be to pack everything up high to fit in the remainder of the presents, the driver must be able to see clearly out of all the windows and blind spots – nothing can obstruct the view.
“Bringing home the Christmas tree, and disposing of it early next year is also something drivers need to be aware of to not break any weight restrictions.
“Everything in the car, or on the roof, has to be securely fastened down.
“Something flying around can be a massive distraction for the driver causing dangerous driving, and packing the car over its weight limit could mean a hefty fine and penalty points which will no doubt ruin Christmas.”
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