Millions of drivers have been warned they could be breaking the law due to 14 common driving habits.

A new study has revealed that many of us are unaware of certain laws we are breaking when we get behind the wheel of our cars.

Business comparison experts iCompario spoke to 2,000 UK motorists about their knowledge of the Highway Code, to discover which laws British drivers are unintentionally breaking.

Kerry Fawcett, Digital Director at iCompario commented: "Here at iCompario, we're always looking to promote driver safety, and this is highlighted in our commitment to providing products and services that can potentially protect all road users.

The Northern Echo: These are the rules you could be breaking, and what you could be fined for doing soThese are the rules you could be breaking, and what you could be fined for doing so (Image: Getty/PeopleImages)

“Whilst it can be all too easy for motorists to be overconfident in their abilities and believe that they are capable of multi-tasking behind the wheel, it is essential to have your full attention on the road at all times.”

These are the rules you could be breaking, and what you could be fined for doing so.

Flashing their lights at other motorists to give way

Their research found that over seven million drivers (17%) are regularly breaking the law by flashing their lights at other motorists to give way.

According to the Highway Code, drivers should only use their headlights to “to let other road users know that you are there" and not to “convey any other message", such as giving way.

Drivers can even face a £1,000 fine for doing this, if it leads to a crash.

Checking your phone at traffic lights

One in seven people (14%) think that you are allowed to check your phone while stationary at traffic lights.

Even though your car is stopped, you are still on an active road and in control of the vehicle – six penalty points and a £200 fine are a serious possibility.

Swearing at other road users

Shockingly, around one in eight (12%) drivers think that it is legal to swear at other motorists if they want to.

Based on the 41.5m full licence holders in the UK, this would suggest that five million drivers think they’re within their rights to express their frustration at other motorists.

However, swearing at other drivers could actually land you with a substantial £1,000 fine for disorderly behaviour.

Checking a smartwatch while on the move

Surprisingly, one in eight drivers (12%) think that checking their smartwatch (while on the move) to see how many steps they’ve done is legal, yet they are breaking the law, and risk six penalty points and a £200 fine.

This is due to it being a distraction which is more likely to cause an accident. Checking your smartphone would be considered a similar distraction to checking a mobile phone.

Having a dirty number plate

Having a dirty numberplate – so much so that it can’t be read - is also illegal.

This may come as a surprise to over one in ten drivers (11%) though, who were unaware this is against the law.

Hiding your registration can risk a £1,000 fine.

Splashing pedestrians

One in ten drivers (11%) believe that splashing pedestrians is legal, but this is in fact illegal under the Road Traffic Act 1998 and could see you slapped with three penalty points and a £100 fine.

Hogging the middle lane

One in ten drivers (10%) think that it is legal to ‘hog’ the middle lane on the motorway, despite the law clearly stating that the right two lanes are only for overtaking.

Those caught 'hogging' are likely to face a £100 fine and three penalty points on their licence.

Sleeping in your car while drunk

Those sleeping in their car while over the legal drink-drive limit could be hit with a maximum fine of £2500 and disqualified from driving.

The road traffic act states that drunk motorists could be prosecuted regardless of what they are doing as they are ‘in control’ of the vehicle when over the limit.

Throw food out of the car window

One in ten (9%) think it is legal to throw food items out of their car window when they are done with them. This is of course littering – even if the item is biodegradable - which could land you a £150 fine if caught.

Driving with a flat tyre

Nearly one in ten (9%) motorists are unaware that this is illegal, and that if you are caught driving with a flat tyre, it can lead to a £100 fine and three penalty points.

Driving with a pet loose in the car

As many as three million motorists (7%) are unaware that driving with a pet loose in the car is also against the law.

Loose or unrestrained pets can easily distract a driver by moving around the vehicle and getting in the way of the steering wheel and pedals.

Having a pet loose can carry a heavy punishment of nine penalty points and even a £2,500 fine.

Stopping on a double yellow line

Around one in ten drivers (9%) think that they are permitted to briefly stop on double yellow lines.

With the exception of blue badge holders, parking on double yellow lines is illegal – even for a short time. Fines depend on the local council and you will receive a PCN (penalty charge notice) up to £130.

Stream TV shows while driving

Staggering, over three million drivers (7%) believe it is legal to stream TV shows on their phone while driving.

Using your mobile phone for anything while driving carries a minimum penalty of a £200 fine and six penalty points.

This means an offender would lose their licence after two offences or, for new drivers who have held a licence for less than two years, a single offence would lead to their licence being revoked.

Driving right behind someone who is going slowly (tailgating)

Tailgating is a serious and dangerous offence, but many drivers (7%) think that it is legal.

It is classed as ‘careless driving’, which can leave you with £100 fine and three points on your license.