Bus Lanes- Common Misconceptions

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Bus Lanes – Common Misconceptions

Bus lanes are often used in urban environments in order to separate traffic and allow it to flow smoother through busy areas. They can be identified by dashed white lines or a solid white line. The solid white lines are used to mark the edge of the lane and should never be crossed during the hours of operation. The dashed lines are used to mark the beginning and end of the lane and also mark areas where is acceptable for other vehicles to cross into the lane. This could be the entrance to a side road for example. The lane will also have the words “Bus Lane” marked along the edge of it.

When can you use a bus lane?

Most bus lanes will have a blue sign at regular intervals which indicate their times of operation. These are the times at which buses will be using the lanes, therefore, cars are restricted from using. The sign will usually show a time period, followed by days of the week when the restrictions are in place. On some lanes, they can show two times, for example, Mon-Fri 6.30 – 10.30am, 4 pm – 7.30pm.

It’s important to remember that if there’s no visible sign, it means that the bus lane is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore, it’s illegal to use it any time.

Outside of the operation hours specified on the blue sign, it’s okay to use the bus lane. This would help ease traffic congestion, reducing the amount of traffic by freeing up another lane for other vehicles to use. Be aware that if a bus lane isn’t operation during your driving test and you do not use it, it could result in a fail.

Who can use a bus lane?

This depends on the bus lane, as it can vary. Whilst some are reserved for buses only, others allow some vehicles. If this is the case, the vehicle will be indicated by their symbol on the blue sign. This could potentially include:

  • Licensed London Taxis
  • Motorcycles (without sidecars)
  • Mopeds
  • Scooters
  • Tricycles
  • Bicycles

Crossing into a bus lane

A common misconception people have is that it’s acceptable to bend the law to allow an emergency vehicle to pass. This is completely false, you can still be fined for entering a bus lane even if you were making way for an emergency vehicle. As the law states you should stay legal whilst trying to move out of the way for an emergency vehicle. You can, however, move into a bus lane to avoid an accident, or if there’s a blockage or obstruction in the road.

Penalties for using a bus lane

More and more bus lanes are starting to be monitored using CCTV to record any unauthorised using them. Your number plate will be flagged and a Penalty Charge Notice sent to the registered owner. The fine itself is dependent on the location of the bus lane, and how quickly it’s paid.  Inside Greater London, the fine is £160 but can be reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days. Similarly, outside Greater London, the fine is £65 but can be reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

Appealing against a bus lane violation

If you believe you’ve been wrongly penalised, you can appeal against the PCN. The grounds for appeal include:

  • The act itself didn’t occur
  • The charge is more than the amount it should be
  • A fixed penalty charge has already been issued
  • You’re not the registered owner
  • Your vehicle was being hired out to someone else who’d signed a statement of liability
  • The vehicle was being used without consent.

In conclusion, many drivers find bus lanes incredibly confusing, resulting in many refusing to use them outright, for fear of a fine. Even though using one in busy traffic conditions could make your journey far quicker and more comfortable. The thing point to check is the operational times, remembering that is there are no times, it’s always operational. Never follow other drivers if they are using the bus lane, without checking the times for yourself. If you are uncertain because you’ve missed the blue sign, it’s best practice to simply avoid the lane entirely. The potential fines are far too large to take that risk, even if it results in a few minutes of extra traffic. Why not improve your driving and increase your chances of passing the driving test by visiting our TouTube Channel.

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