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Nine motoring offences parents on school run need to avoid or risk being fined up to £1000

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

With the schools back for another term, a comparison site has revealed nine driving offences that parents need to avoid on the school run. If they don’t, they could face fines of up to £1,000.

Children are heading back to school this month and roads are filling up again with parents dropping off or picking up their kids. With work and home commitments to consider on top of that, the journey can often be a busy rush for motorists, which can lead to driving laws being forgotten or overlooked. The car insurance team at Compare the Market has compiled a list of potential offences for parents to consider during the school run, plus the fines that come with not following the rules.

Julie Daniels, from Compare the Market’s car insurance team, 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.”

Here are nine driving scenarios from the price comparison site and the maximum fines parents could incur:

1. Never use your mobile phone to check where children are while driving – £1000

If you need to contact a child or children to find out where they are when picking them up from school, never attempt to do this while driving – this includes texting, calling, or even checking where they are on location apps, such as ‘Find my Friend’. Any driver caught using their phone at the wheel could receive a fine of up to £200 fine – which can rise up to £1,000 for cars or £2,500 for lorries and buses – and six penalty points.

2. Don’t angrily honking your horn – £1,000 

Whether there is a slowdown in traffic or you’re in a rush to get your child to school on time, it’s important to avoid frustrations spilling over by beeping your horn aggressively. Drivers should only ever use their horn when their vehicle is moving, and they need to warn other drivers of their presence. Honking their horn without a good reason can result in a fixed penalty notice of £50, which can increase to £1,000 if challenged in court.

3. Always make sure children are wearing a seatbelt – £500

When driving children to or from school, you should always ensure they wear their seatbelts correctly. If a child under 14 is caught not wearing a seatbelt while you’re driving, you can be fined £500. If you drive a vehicle that was made without seatbelts, such as a classic car, you aren’t allowed to carry any children under three years old and children over three are only permitted to sit in the back seats.

4. Do not take a shortcut through a bus lane – £80  or £160 (in London)

Taking a shortcut through a bus lane can often be tempting for parents who are running late, but drivers should never drive in a bus lane unless otherwise indicated. Doing so can result in a fine of up to £80, or up to £160 if caught driving in a bus lane within Greater London.

5. Do not leave your engine on outside the school gates – £80

Even if it is just for a few minutes, you should never leave your car engine running while waiting for your children to get out of school. Drivers must never leave an engine running unnecessarily if the vehicle is stationary on a public road. You can be charged £20 for failing to comply with this rule, 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.

6. Do not get out to say goodbye with engine running – £80

As well as warning drivers not to leave their engines idling while stationary, you should never leave a parked vehicle unattended with the engine still running. That means no getting out of the car to hug your kids goodbye at the school gates unless you turn the engine off first.

7. Stopping or parking by the school gates to drop off or pick up children – £70

Even if there are no restrictions in place preventing you from driving up to the school, you should never stop or park your vehicle directly outside the school gates. Although it might be more convenient to park as close to the entrance as possible, doing so could result in a fine of either £50 or £70, depending on the impact of the offence. Failing to comply with this can once again result in a fine of up to £80.

8. Don’t drive down a road with School Streets initiatives in place to get closer to the school gates – £130 (in London)

Some roads outside of schools operate a School Streets initiative, which applies temporary restrictions to motorised traffic on that road at drop-off and pick-up times. The aim is to reduce air pollution and improve road safety.

If you drive down a road with School Streets rules in place during the period of traffic restrictions, you could be handed a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) for failing to comply with a sign indicating restrictions on vehicles entering a pedestrian zone. This could result in a fine of up to £130 in London. To avoid receiving a PCN, make sure to stay alert and pay attention to any signs in or around the streets outside the school.

9. Never drive over the speed limit when running late – £100

Whether you’re late dropping the kids off at school after a hectic morning, or in a rush to pick them up on time at the end of the day, it can be tempting to ignore the speed limit and go a little faster on the roads.

Speeding is illegal, and the minimum penalty is a £100 fine and three points added to your licence. The penalty is even more severe if you get caught a second or third time and receiving 12 or more points within three years can get you disqualified from driving altogether.