When can you drive in a bus lane?

When can you drive in a bus lane?
20 Mar 2020
By Ross Wild
You should be familiar with what a bus lane looks like, however, sometimes they can be easy to miss; especially if you’re driving in a busy town or city centre where there are cars absolutely everywhere and the streets are packed full to the brim. The rules surrounding driving in bus lanes can be quite confusing as sometimes you may spot vehicles other than buses driving in them; leaving you wondering whether you can use them or not. So, we thought we’d make a blog dedicated to the very question.

Bus In London

How Do You Know If It’s A Bus Lane?

You will usually see markings on the road with ‘bus lane’ printed and they tend to be set out with white lines and are coloured red/green(to make them obvious and divert traffic). The solid white line marks the edge of the bus lane, and the white dashes mark the entrance and exit of a bus lane; you should not cross over the solid white lanes at all costs unless told to do so and may use the dashed white lines to enter and exit when required to.


When Can You Drive In A Bus Lane?

The Highway Code states:” Bus lanes are shown by road markings and signs that indicate which other vehicles are permitted to use the bus lane…. Unless told otherwise, you should not drive in a bus lane during its period of operation”.


Who Is Allowed To Drive In A Bus Lane?

The rules surrounding who has the right to drive in a bus lane can be quite confusing, and it usually depends on the particular location of the lane itself. Some bus lanes are only to be used solely by buses, whereas cities with busy city centres, like London, have to open up their bus lanes to other motorists as a means of keeping traffic flowing and safe. 

If you want to know if you can use the lane, you will have to look out for a sign indicating which vehicles can use the lane. If the bus lane has ‘local’ on a sign, it may only be used by the bus driver and no other vehicle.

The Vehicle’s allowed to use a bus lane if a sign indicates:

  • Bus Drivers
  • Hackney Carriages
  • Bicycles
  • Mopeds
  • Tricycles
  • Taxis (In some tows, dependant upon local council rules)


Bus Stop

What Happens If You Drive In A Bus Lane By Mistake?

If you are found to be driving in a bus lane and are caught via a camera or police officer, you could see yourself facing a fine. This would only happen if you are travelling in a ‘local’ only bus lane though, so bear this in mind.

What Is The Punishment For Driving In A Bus Lane?

If you are unfortunate enough to use a bus lane without even realising it, you may be stung due to breaking the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. You may face a Penalty Charge Notice of between £70-£130 depending on location, and if you pay within 14 days of the fine, the fee is usually halved.  


Do Bus Lane Cameras Check Speed?

Yes, they do check for speeding and motorists who are driving in bus-only lanes. Bus lane cameras are more discreet than usual speed cameras and usually look similar to that of CCTV. 

Why Are Taxis Allowed To Use Bus Lanes?

In most towns and cities across the UK, taxi’s aren’t allowed to use bus lanes, however in some major cities like London, where traffic is crazy, they allow hackney carriages to use the bus lanes as a means of freeing up traffic flow.


Can Police/Emergency Services Drive In Bus Lanes?

Yes, if necessary. They may be forced to use bus lanes to do their job efficiently and get through traffic as quickly as possible.


Can You Appeal A Fine?

Yes, you can appeal a fine and there are a variety of reasons as to why drivers do appeal:

Wrong sign/road markings

Although uncommon, road markings may be misleading or the wrong sign may have been put out, which ends up forcing the driver to use the bus lane. You may appeal if there is a legitimate reason as to why you were forced to use the bus lane.

Penalty Charge Notice Is Wrong

It does happen... sometimes you may find that you have been overcharged by the council, meaning that you may appeal.

Stolen Vehicle

For those of you who have had their car stolen before, you may have received a fine for something that you haven’t personally done yourself, leaving you a little confused. If the person who has stolen your car has racked up fines, you may appeal.


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