Crucial car checks to do before driving home for Christmas to avoid a £2,500 fine

As the weather gets colder, drivers are being warned to do some important car checks prior to driving home for Christmas or they risk a hefty fine. Here’s what drivers need to take extra care of while driving in the winter, according to experts

Checking your car is roadworthy is important, especially while driving on winter roads
Checking your car is roadworthy is important, especially while driving on winter roads

With chilly temperatures set to hit the country drivers are being warned to prepare their vehicles, not just to stay safe on the road but to also avoid massive fines of up to £2,500.

Many drivers don’t realise that their vehicles are not roadworthy, according to a report from the Green Flag and Brake.

The report reveals that a fifth of drivers don’t know how to check brakes, fluids, or tyre tread depth, which are basic and important steps to safely maintaining your vehicle.

Stephen Halloran, criminal solicitor at Lawtons Law, reveals how to keep your car safe and stay legally protected while driving in the winter.

How to drive safely and check your car is safe before driving at Christmas

Check your brakes

If your brakes don’t work properly, you could be fined


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It’s vital to have your brakes checked every six months, or more often if you do lots of mileage in your car.

This is because if your brakes are defective and you happen to be involved in an accident or stopped by the police, you will be held responsible regardless of whether you knew they were functioning or not.

So, if even one part of your braking system isn’t working properly, you could be fined £2,500 and may receive three points on your driving licence.

How you check your brakes depends on the car you drive. Older cars may not have an automatic monitoring device to detect when your brake pads are worn down.

In such cases, you’ll have to have a mechanic check your brakes and discs.

Keep your tyres up to scratch

Legally, your tyre tread depth must be a minimum of 1.6 mm across the middle of the tyre.

If you’re found to have below the required tread, you could be fined £2,500 and face three penalty points per tyre.

It can also invalidate your car insurance, leading to a maximum of six penalty points, as well as fees to retrieve your vehicle from a car pound.

Not maintaining the correct tyre pressure can not only prove to be expensive, but it is also dangerous and can lead to blowouts and less grip when braking on the roads.

Make sure your lights work

If you have broken lights and you’re involved in an accident, you could be charged with dangerous driving


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With both mornings and evenings being dark, winter is really a dangerous time to be driving with broken headlights, reversing lights or indicators.

Besides the safety risks, driving with broken lights also makes your number plate less visible, which is another offence.

In addition, if you have broken lights and you’re involved in an accident, your charges can be upgraded to the more serious ‘careless’ or ‘ dangerous’ driving.

Those who are spotted driving with broken lights will be faced with a fixed penalty notice, which costs between £50 and £100.

You have 28 days to pay it and if you don’t within this time, you could be prosecuted, potentially resulting in larger fines and court costs.

If you’re involved in an accident

If you are involved in an accident, it’s vital to stop at the scene if you know or suspect a person or animal has been injured, or if there’s damage to another vehicle or property.

If you don’t stop under these circumstances, then you’re committing a criminal offence.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, you also need to take ‘reasonable endeavours’ to exchange details with other drivers or owners of damaged property.

You should inform the police and your insurer of the accident within 24 hours, even if you don’t intend to make a claim.

Both, failing to stop after an accident and not reporting an accident, are serious offences.

If you are the registered owner of a vehicle that didn’t stop at the scene of an accident, you will receive a notice of intended prosecution requiring you to identify the driver within 28 days or face being arrested as a suspect.

Some other checks that you should carry out are making sure that:

  • The battery is fully charged
  • Fluids are topped up
  • The fuel tank is near full
  • Windows and mirrors are clear of snow and ice
  • Windscreen, wiper blades and other windows are clean

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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