The return to school in September may come as a blessed relief for many parents after a busy month entertaining the kids during the summer break.
But while home life may now be a little quieter, the start of the new school term does mean parents have to deal with the headache of the daily grind of the school run once again.
Those who have to take their children to school by car will know that the commute can often be busy and blighted by traffic, and to make matters worse, parents are now being warned that a simple driving mistake could land them a fine of up to £1,000.
If you get stuck behind a slow driver or a long line of traffic during the school run, it’s important to avoid sounding your horn aggressively out of frustration. According to rule 112 of the Highway Code, drivers should only ever use their horn when their vehicle is moving and they need to alert other drivers of their presence on the road.
Drivers who honk their horn without a good reason can find themselves landed with a fixed penalty notice of £50, which can increase to £1,000 if challenged in court.
The Highway Code states: “The horn. Use only while your vehicle is moving and you need to warn other road users of your presence. Never sound your horn aggressively. You MUST NOT use your horn while stationary on the road, or when driving in a built-up area between the hours of 11.30pm and 7.00am, except when another road user poses a danger.”
This isn’t the only driving mistake parents need to be aware of. The car insurance team at Compare the Market warns that taking a shortcut through a bus lane on the school commute could incur a fine of up to £80, or as high as £160 within Greater London.
An £80 penalty can also be issued for leaving your car engine while outside the school gates, even if you are only waiting for a few minutes. Rule 123 of the Highway Code states that drivers must never leave their engine running unnecessarily if their vehicle is stationary on a public road.
Those who break this rule can be charged £20 for failing to comply, or £40 if issued a fixed penalty notice. Some councils may even allow traffic enforcement officers to issue a Penalty Charge Notice of £80 for idling vehicles.
It’s also imperative that parents ensure their children wear their seatbelts correctly. Rule 99 of the Highway Code states that drivers can be fined £500 if a child under the age of 14 is caught not wearing a seatbelt while in the car.
Julie Daniels from the car insurance team at Compare the Market said: “School drop off can be a chaotic time, with cars and children converging on the school gates and nearby roads. This can create a safety hazard, especially for young children.
“To limit potential dangers, always pay attention to the traffic and pedestrians around you – especially with so many children in the area. That means avoiding any distractions such as using your phone while behind the wheel. If you need to contact your child, find somewhere safe to stop and park your vehicle first.
“Fines can be costly, and penalty points can add to the expense, by potentially increasing the cost of your car insurance. To avoid paying the price, motorists should make sure to keep up to date with the rules of the road and drive safely at all times.”