In recent years, there has been increasing attention on the driving practice known as “coasting.” This term refers to driving a vehicle in neutral or with the clutch pressed down, often with the intention of saving fuel. However, this common belief has been debunked as a myth and is now drawing significant legal scrutiny.
Coasting is problematic because it can reduce the driver’s control over the vehicle. When a car is in gear, the engine’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU) detects when the accelerator is not engaged and minimizes or cuts off fuel to the injectors, leading to fuel savings when driving downhill. In contrast, coasting in neutral disconnects the engine from the wheels, which requires the engine to use a small amount of fuel to maintain its operation, as it does not receive rotational power from the wheels.
The legal implications of coasting are serious. While coasting itself is not illegal, it can lead to significant consequences if it results in an accident. Drivers can be deemed not in full control of their vehicle if they are involved in a crash while coasting. According to Rule 122 of the Highway Code, the lack of control associated with coasting can lead to penalties, including a potential fine of up to £1,000 or even discretionary disqualification.
The emphasis on penalizing coasting arises from safety concerns. The practice of coasting, especially when going downhill, can significantly reduce a driver’s ability to react promptly in changing traffic conditions. This reduced control not only endangers the driver but also other road users.
Driving examiners are particularly watchful for coasting during driving tests. Coasting can be marked as a driving fault because it indicates a lack of control and understanding of the vehicle. It’s important for learner drivers to demonstrate their ability to maintain control and use the car’s mechanics effectively, including understanding when and how to use the gears properly.
In summary, while coasting may have been considered a fuel-saving technique, it is now recognized as a driving practice that can compromise vehicle control, potentially leading to accidents. Drivers should be aware of the legal and safety implications of coasting, especially given the potential for significant fines and disqualification in the event of an accident related to this practice.
For more detailed information, you can refer to your driving instructor at Bookinstructor.co.uk for their expert advice and also the articles from Mirror Online, Liverpool Echo, and YorkshireLive.