Legal i

Pretty risky or a close shave – the potential price of vanity

We have all had mornings that could have gone a little bit smoother. We wake up 20 minutes after our alarm went off, before launching out of bed to embark upon a record-setting dash around the house to get out of the front door on time. This is stressful enough, without factoring getting children ready, too. 


In 2019, the residents of the UK are seemingly busier than ever, and it is commonplace to see commuters apply finishing touches to their look whilst on public transport. The last few years have seen a definite ìbeard boomî amongst the male population with facial hair becoming a must-have for the modern man. Similarly, many women do not leave the house without their face on, regardless of how sharp the rest of their appearance is. So when the morning rush overruns as long as our sleep-in,  do motorists sacrifice their vanity for the sake of public safety? 


News in recent years would suggest not, as there have been several reports of arrests of motorists engaging in ìdistracted drivingî. Women applying makeup, men shaving, or either sex still getting dressed or putting on their shoes whilst driving. Essentially, all of it falls under the umbrella of potentially careless, distracted or dangerous driving, depending on the standard of driving exhibited at the time.


Ingenie, Brake and Direct Line were amongst those who conducted research on distracted driving between 2016 and 2018, as many organisations looked at the cause of rising accidents statistics, and some of the results were alarming.


ï Over 80 per cent of drivers in one survey admitted to hazardous behaviour whilst driving, such as changing clothes, steering with a foot, painting nails, eating with both hands and shaving. 


ï In one study of women, almost half admitted to applying makeup whilst behind the wheel and, perhaps more alarmingly, only 14 per cent of them believed that it affected their driving. 


ï All studies concluded that younger drivers were more likely to be involved in an accident as a result of distracted driving.


ï Ingenie found that one in six male drivers were involved in an accident after using their mobile phone.


Careless Driving 


Engaging in any of the activities described could amount to prosecution for driving without due care, more commonly known as careless driving. Essentially, when this charge arises, the Prosecution must be able to prove that your standard of driving had fallen so far below what is expected from a careful and competent driver that it is considered careless. If you swerve slightly because one hand is on the wheel whilst the other is shaving, applying aftershave or fixing your mascara, then you could land yourself between three and nine penalty points in addition to an unlimited fine. 


Dangerous Driving


If taking care of your hair in the rear-view mirror leads to a more serious reduction in your standard of driving and results in an accident, for example, then penalty points could be the least of your worries. 


Similar to the definition above, but with one important difference: dangerous driving requires the standard to fall so far below the expected standard that it is considered dangerous or it would be obvious to onlookers that the manner of driving is dangerous. For example, if you have a collision and another motorist had seen you doing your tie up whilst driving and thought: ìhe is obviously going to have an accident!î then this may amount to dangerous driving, even if, in your view, fixing your tie didnít contribute to the accident at all. If this charge is successful against you, then there is a mandatory disqualification of at least 12 months and a significant risk of being sent to prison. 


Nobody wants to turn up to work looking like a disheveled vagrant, but is vanity really worth the penalties that could be imposed? The concern for any motorist to bear in mind is this: the reality of the situation is not always the crucial factor in cases such as this. You could be 100 per cent certain that your standard of driving was fine, but it is often how it looks to other people that could result in charges being successfully brought against you.

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