Some motorists with car insurance for experienced or young drivers may not be aware of the right of way laws in place for some types of road in the UK.
In the countryside, The Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 enforces the rule which stops mechanically propelled vehicles (MPVs), such as cars, from using tracks which are not noted as being byways open to all traffic (BOATs).
Public Bridleways, Public Footpaths, and Restricted Byways are off limits to motorised traffic and the legislation allows pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders, and people using other non-mechanically propelled vehicles, to travel in safety. It also protects wildlife and prevents the risk of motorists suffering a crash, and subsequently struggling to find a cheap car insurance quote, after attempting to avoid a pedestrian or another of these modes of transport.
If a driver is unsure which roads are open to them in a specific area of countryside, they can look at an Ordnance Survey map for information. Restricted and unrestricted routes are marked on these maps, however, some may be showing out-of-date information so it might be useful to visit the council in the area to examine its Definitive Map of Rights of Way.
Furthermore councils should provide a list of all applications for Modification Orders to the Definitive Map of Rights of Way made by any resident of the area.
This might show the road user that the status of some routes may change in the near future, or that some applications have been confirmed but perhaps have not yet been added to the definitive map. This could mean that a road which used to be listed in the BOAT section is actually no longer available for use by motorists.
If there is ever an objection to a BOAT being downgraded to a Public Bridleway, Footpath, or Restricted Byway, a Public Enquiry can be made. Information and evidence from both sides will be presented to an independent inspector, so that a final decision casn be made on the status of the road.
If a road user is found driving along a route which is off limits to MPVs, without lawful permission from the landowner* or without being able to prove that they were driving there “for the purpose of saving life or extinguishing fire or meeting any other like emergency” **, then the police may issue a maximum fine of £1000 for the offence.
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*Section 34(2A) of the Road Traffic Act 1988
**Section 34(4) of the Road Traffic Act 1988