The Construction and Use regulations are there to regulate the minimum requirements of vehicles on UK’s roads.
The list below are the most important and common of the regulations, but there are many requirements for vehicles. Full lists can be found at the links below.
|Class of vehicle||Maximum length (metres)|
|A motor vehicle drawing one trailer not being a semi-trailer.||18|
|An articulated bus.||18|
|An articulated vehicle.||15.5|
|A wheeled motor vehicle.||12|
|A track-laying motor vehicle.||9.2|
|An agricultural trailed appliance manufactured on or after 1st December 1985.||15|
|A semi-trailer manufactured on or after 1st May 1983.||12.2|
|A trailer with at least 4 wheels which is—
(a) drawn by a goods vehicle being a motor vehicle having a maximum gross weight exceeding 3500 kg; or
(b) an agricultural trailer.
|Any other trailer not being an agricultural trailed appliance or a semi-trailer.||7|
Certain exceptions apply to vehicles including snow ploughs, tailboards, receptacles containing indivisible loads of exceptional length – albeit in the latter the police must be notified and an attendant deployed.
|Class of vehicle||Maximum length (metres)|
|A locomotive, other than an agricultural motor vehicle.||2.75|
|A refrigerated vehicle||2.58|
|Any other motor vehicle.||2.5|
|A trailer drawn by a motor vehicle having a maximum gross weight (determined as provided in Part I of Schedule 8 to these Regulations) exceeding 3500 kg.||2.5|
|An agricultural trailer.||2.5|
|An agricultural trailed appliance.||2.5|
|Any other trailer drawn by a vehicle other than a motor cycle.||2.3|
|A trailer drawn by a motor cycle.||1.5|
Exceptions make provisions for driving mirrors, tyre distortions and sheeting to cover a load.
A further exception is made for a broken down vehicle being towed.
Overall height is the distance from flat ground to the top of an unladen vehicle with tyres inflated.
The maximum height of a bus is 4.57m.
Any vehicle over 3m must be given a warning where the driver can clearly see the written warning.
Acceptable overhang is defined as “60% of the distance between the transverse plane which passes through the centre or centres of the foremost wheel or wheels and the transverse plane which passes through the foremost point from which the overhang is to be measured”
A number of exemptions are given in regulation 11 of the Construction and Use Regulations including buses, refuse vehicles, agricultural vehicles and ambulances.
However, even if the overhang falls within the 60% category, depending on the nature and structure of the overhang, an offence still may be committed under the ‘dangerous condition’ provisions (see below).
Every vehicle first used on or after 1 October 1937 is required to have a working speedometer.
Exceptions made provisions for agricultural vehicles, certain tractors, work trucks, motorcycles with engines not exceeding 100CC and certain other low speed Vehicles.
The margin of accuracy must be within 10%.
Regulations 15 to 18 provide that vehicles first used on or after various specified dates must comply with specified EC directives.
The specific provisions are complicated so generally vehicles will be manufactured with the correct breaking systems already in place.
Usually, any offences committed in respect to breaking systems relate to the brakes not working properly, for example worn breaking pads, which would be prosecuted under the offence of driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition (see below).
The specific types of tyres fitted to different and specialist vehicles can be found in a table in regulation 24.
The tread of a tyre must have a minimum depth of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread (which usually excludes the water draining sides) around the entire circumference. Even a tyre worn below this depth in a small patch will be prosecuted, even if the remainder of the tyre is fine.
Regulation 27 provides for other defects in tyres that could be prosecuted:
Regulation 29 provides the steering must be maintained in good working order.
All glass must be maintained so that the driver has full view of the road and traffic ahead.
There are various requirements for each type of vehicle. A full table can be found here.
In virtually every case the mirror must remain steady under normal driving conditions and each exterior mirror must be visible to the driver through a side window or the part of the windscreen swept by the windscreen wiper.
Apart from the limited exceptions below, 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 maximum speed of less than 20mph, an agricultural vehicle, a track laying vehicle or a vehicle being used to provide a local service, as defined in the Transport Act 1985.
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 injury to such person.
The requirements for wings are set out in regulation 63.
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.
Regulations 61-61C regulate prevention of avoidable emissions. Most of these are built in to 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.
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 prevented.
Every vehicle (apart from agricultural vehicles travelling at less than 20mph) must be fitted with a working horn.
A two tone reversing alarm is not a horn for the purposes of the legislation.
No vehicle that is not an emergency vehicle may be fitted with a two tone warning siren.
Regulations 55-59 and 99 regulate excessive noise.
See our page on breach of weight restrictions (link to 3a) for more information.
The Motor Vehicle (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993 provides the different regulations for requirements of seatbelts.
These requirements are for vehicles intended to carry fewer than 8 passengers and all dual purpose vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1987.
Drivers must be fitted with a 3 point belt (over the shoulder, down to the seat and across the lap).
In vehicles with 2 front seat passengers, the passenger furthest from the driver must have a 3 point belt, and the middle passenger at least a 2 point belt (across the lap only).
In vehicles with 2 rear passengers both must be fitted with a 3 point belt, and in vehicles with 3 rear passengers, the two side passengers must have a 3 point belt and the middle passenger at least a 2 point belt.
It is an offence not to wear a seatbelt where they are required and fitted.
Any children in the vehicle must be in the correct car seat or their height/weight until their 12th birthday or until they reach 135cm, whichever comes first.
There are various exceptions to the wearing of a seatbelt, including
You must wear a seat belt if you’re pregnant for medical reasons (unless there is a medical condition as above).
You must wear a seat belt if you’re a disabled driver or passenger (unless there is a medical condition as above).
The full lighting regulations can be found here but the most important are:
All vehicles must have 2 two headlights save motorbikes and certain old vehicles. They must switch on or off simultaneously. They must be white or yellow.
All vehicles must have 2 rear position red lamps.
The rear index plate must be illuminated.
The lights must remain illuminated during darkness or seriously reduced visibility. “Serious reduced visibility” is not defined, and so is primarily a question of fact.
Most vehicles must also be fitted with fog lamps and reversing lamps.
Improper use of lamps, for example to ‘flash’ a driver in annoyance or rage, is an offence.
Anything which does not fit into any of the regulations above, or perhaps something that even may fit in with the regulations above but for one reason or another may still be considered dangerous, perhaps because it is not fitted properly, may still be prosecuted under section 40A of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This provides authority for the police to prosecute any defect at all which could be considered dangerous.
The test is whether the defect could cause danger to any other road user or pedestrian.
See our page on “driving in a dangerous condition” (link to 3f) for more information.
The first defence would be obvious, the vehicle was not in a dangerous condition or that the condition would not risk danger of injury to any other person. Usually these defences are argued either by flatly denying the defect or suggesting that the defect itself was not dangerous.
The individual defect would be examined in it’s own facts. Always consider getting an independent expert report.
If not, another way of dealing with this would be by way of a section 48 argument to avoid points/disqualification. S.48 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 – the Court must not endorse points or disqualify if “he proves that he did not know, and had no reasonable cause to suspect, that the use of the vehicle involved a danger of injury to any person.”
The procedure here would be to enter a guilty plea and argue the case under section 48.
NB – this applies to offences that carry penalty points only.
Using a vehicle in a dangerous condition – 3 penalty points or a discretionary disqualification. The offence also carries up to a £2,500 fine in normal vehicles, and an unlimited fine for goods and passenger vehicles. For a second offences within 3 years, there is a mandatory minimum 6 month ban.
Dangerous load – 3 penalty points or a discretionary disqualification. The offence also carries up to a £2,500 fine in normal vehicles, and an unlimited fine for goods and passenger vehicles. For a second offences within 3 years, there is a mandatory minimum 6 month ban.
Breach of requirements as to brakes, steering or tyres – 3 penalty points or a discretionary disqualification. The offence also carries up to a £2,500 fine in normal vehicles, and an unlimited fine for goods and passenger vehicles.
Breach of any construction and use requirements – no endorsement. Fine of up to £1,000 in standard vehicles and up to £2,500 in goods and passenger vehicles.
Breach of lighting requirements – no endorsement. Fine of up to £1,000 in standard vehicles and up to £2,500 in goods and passenger vehicles.
Breach of seatbelt requirements – no endorsement. Fine of up to £1,000.
Under s.28 Road Traffic Offenders Act the Court have the discretion to impose points for only 1 offence if multiple offences were committed ‘on the same occasion.