At this time of year, festive campaigns remind us of the dangers of driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

The dangers are obvious, and most drivers are aware of the hefty penalties which can be imposed upon them if they fall foul of the law in this way. Most accidents, however, are not caused by those driving under the influence. Most accidents are caused by careless or dangerous driving.

So, how many of us have refreshed our knowledge of the Highway Code since passing our driving tests? Recent research suggests less than half.

While breaches of the Highway Code do not, in and of themselves necessarily mean that criminal penalties will follow, the terms of the Highway Code may inform, at least to some extent, what “driving with reasonable care” – expected of all road users - means. Driving without reasonable care is an offence.

This year alone, 38 of Highway Code rules have been updated or changed to ensure that drivers are aware that they should, for example:

- get sufficient sleep before a long journey;

- have sufficient vehicle fuel or charge is required for each planned journey;

- undertake basic vehicle maintenance and safety checks before setting off;

- have a charged mobile telephone, containing emergency numbers, and high-visibility clothing for use in the event of an emergency;

- know the steps to follow if their vehicle develops a problem (get left, get safe and get help);

- know what to do if they break down in a live traffic lane;

- know that on motorways, drivers and passengers must not retrieve items that fall from a vehicle or attempt to move an obstruction. Instead, drivers should stop in a place of relative safety and contact the emergency services to report the incident and request help;

- know that at the start and finish of contraflow systems in road works, there may be areas of adverse camber; drivers need to slow down and leave extra space when these areas are signed.

In addition, next year, increased restrictions on the use of mobile phones will come into force, making it illegal, not just to make a call or send a message, but also to take photos or videos and to scroll through playlists or play games while driving.

The Highway Code will shortly be revised, making it clear that being stationary in traffic, at traffic lights or in motorway jams counts as driving.