In this month’s edition we feature more road traffic issues relevant to the trade supplied by Patterson Law. If you need any advice on motoring matters please email: or call 01626 359 800 for free legal advice.

First, we would like to print a correction. Last month we explained that a tyre must have a minimum tread depth of 1.3mm. However a PHTM reader correctly pointed out that actually the tread must have a minimum depth of 1.6mm.

This got us thinking about the construc- tion of vehicles, what is required to make a vehicle road legal and the penalties if a vehicle has any form of defect. So this month we have listed the most important and commonly used parts of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regula- tions 1986. Falling foul of any of these could see a driver prosecuted under the Road Traffic Act.

TYRES The tread of a tyre must have a minimum depth of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread (which excludes the water draining sides) around the entire cir- cumference.

Other defects in tyres that could be pros- ecuted are when: • the tyre is unsuitable for the purpose which the vehicle is being used;

• the tyre is under inflated for the pur- pose which the vehicle is being used;

• the tyre has a cut in excess of 25 mm or 10% of the section width of the tyre, whichever is the greater, measured in any direction on the outside of the tyre and deep enough to reach the ply or cord;

• the tyre has any lump or tear caused by separation of its structure;

• the tyre has any of the ply or cord ex- posed;

• the base of any groove which showed in the original tread pattern of the tyre is not clearly visible.

SPEEDOMETERS Every vehicle first used on or after 1st October 1937 is required to have a work- ing speedometer. The margin of accuracy must be within 10%.


Exceptions make provisions for agricul- tural vehicles, certain tractors, work trucks, motorcycles with engines not ex- ceeding 100CC and certain other low speed vehicles.

BRAKES Vehicles first used on or after various specified dates must comply with certain provisions. The provisions are compli- cated so generally vehicles will be manu- factured with the correct braking systems already in place.

Usually offences committed in respect to brakes relate to not working properly, for example worn brake pads, which would be prosecuted under the offence of driv- ing a vehicle in a dangerous condition (see below).

STEERING The steering must be maintained in good working order.

VIEWS All glass must be maintained so that the driver has full view of the road and traffic ahead.

MIRRORS There are various requirements for each type of vehicle. In virtually every case the mirror must remain steady under normal driving conditions and each exterior mir- ror must be visible to the driver through a side window or the part of the wind- screen swept by the windscreen wiper.

WIPERS AND WASHING FLUID Apart from exceptions every vehicle fitted with a windscreen must also be fitted with one or more efficient automatic windscreen wipers capable of clearing the windscreen so that the driver has an adequate view of the road in front of both sides of the vehicle and to the front of the vehicle.

Every vehicle required to be fitted with wipers is also required to be fitted with a windscreen washer capable of cleaning the area of the windscreen swept by the wiper.

This does not apply where the driver has full view of the road without use of the windscreen.

The exceptions are vehicles having a max- imum speed of less than 20mph, an

agricultural vehicle, a track laying vehicle or a vehicle being used to provide a local ser- vice as defined in the Transport Act 1985.

MASCOTS No mascot, emblem or other ornamental object shall be carried by a motor vehicle first used on or after 1st October 1937 in any position where it is likely to strike any person with whom the vehicle may collide unless the mascot is not liable to cause in- jury to such person.

WINGS Most vehicles (including tractors, motor cars and bikes) driving at more than 20mph are required to have functioning wings to catch mud or water thrown up by the tyres.

EMISSIONS Most devices to regulate emissions are built into vehicles by the manufacturer, but the most common avoidable emission that would apply to drivers is the dripping of oil and other substances from the vehicle.

FUEL TANKS Every fuel tank fitted to a vehicle must be maintained so that it contains the fuel and is protected from being damaged, and so that leakage is adequately pre- vented.

SILENCERS, NOISE AND WARNING INSTRUMENTS Every vehicle (apart from agricultural ve- hicles travelling at less than 20mph) must be fitted with a working horn.

No vehicle that is not an emergency vehi- cle may be fitted with a two-tone warning siren.

SEAT BELTS The requirements are for vehicles intended to carry fewer than eight passengers and all dual-purpose vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1987 to have a seat belt.

Drivers must be fitted with a three-point belt (over the shoulder, down to the seat and across the lap).

In vehicles with front seat passengers, the passenger furthest from the driver must have a three-point belt, and the middle passenger at least a two-point belt (across the lap only).


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