As motorists return to the roads after lockdown, research has found that many drivers in the South East are unaware about what is considered a driving offence.

Research by insurance company Tempcover found that 34 per cent of motorists did not know that driving in inappropriate footwear such as flip flops, or even barefoot is an offence if it is deemed to have caused dangerous driving.

And 41 per cent were unaware eating or drinking at the wheel could land them in trouble, with 31 per cent not realising that playing music too loudly could be dangerous. Of those polled, 25 per cent did not know that failing to properly restrain a pet is also an offence if it results in dangerous driving.

Despite the first mobile phone driving laws being introduced 18 years ago, 29 per cent of drivers admitted to handling their phone at the wheel.

Regulations around mobile phone usage were tightened even further in April 2021, with a new law handing drivers face six penalty points and a fine for touching their mobile phone for any reason while driving, closing a loophole that previously allowed motorists to take photos or videos at the wheel.

Road Safety Trust CEO Sally Lines said: “Whilst drivers might think that using their mobile phone, sat-nav or eating and drinking behind the wheel are minor incidents, it distracts them from the task at hand which is driving and could cause an accident.

“If you feel distracted when driving, you should pull over to a safe place for a couple of minutes and only proceed when you feel it is safe to do so. You may not only avoid a fine or conviction you could also save a life.”

Despite them being punishable by fines and penalty points, drivers also admitted to warning another driver about upcoming speed traps, throwing litter from their car and not wearing a seat belt.