Drivers could be slapped with a £1,000 fine for saying 'thank you' and breaching Highway Code rule

Police officer pulling car over

Drivers could be fined £1,000 for taking their hands off the wheel while travelling

Hemma Visavadia

By Hemma Visavadia

Published: 19/06/2024

- 15:45

One in four drivers are unaware they are breaking rules

Drivers across the UK could face hefty fines for unknowingly breaching an important Highway Code rule by being polite on the roads.

Experts have warned motorists that they risk breaking Rule 160 of the Highway code which requires them to keep both hands on the wheel or handlebars where possible.

While the polite gesture is known around the country, it could land drivers in trouble and cause subsequent fines.

Drivers who often use their hand to signal "thank you" to other drivers could face fines of up to £1,000.

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Police car

The Highway Code details that drivers must not use hazard warning lights while driving


Research recently highlighted how more than half (58.3 per cent) of Britons would express doa quick wave or thumbs up, while one in ten (13.3 per cent) wouldflash their hazard lights.

Flashing hazard lights to say thank you could also breach the Highway Code as under Rule 116, drivers must not use hazard warning lights while driving or being towed unless on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway.

In this case, flashing can only be done to warn drivers behind of a hazard or obstruction ahead.

Data found that one in four (24.8 per cent) of drivers would do either of these actions unknowingly that it would break a Highway Code rule.

Equally, another common gesture such as flashing headlights to give way could also land drivers with fines.

Under Rule 110 of the Highway Code, drivers are advised to “only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there”.

The guidance continues to state that headlights should not be used to convey any other message or intimidate other road users, failure to comply could land motorists with a £1,000 fine.

RegTransfers CEO Mark Trimbee said: “It still pays to be polite, though, so if you want to express gratitude you can do so with a quick nod of your head - remembering to keep your eyes and attention on the road while doing so.”

The expert added: “It might seem like you’re being friendly but taking your hand (or hands) off the wheel to say thank you, even for a moment, poses a potential risk to you and other road users, as you won’t be in full control of the vehicle.”

Last year, National Highways highlighted how a motorist was fined for removing his hands from the wheel when driving.

He was issued a traffic offence report for not being in proper control of his vehicle and was given three points to his licence and a £100 fine.

Lisa Scott, National Highways’ regional safety programme manager for the North West, warned that some drivers are putting themselves and others at risk.


Driver in car behind wheel

More than half of drivers flash their lights or wave to save thank you while in the car


She said: “Those who continue to pose a risk should be aware that we are working with our police partners to make sure they are spotted and prevented from causing serious harm to themselves or others.”

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