Vehicles in the countryside
Public rights of way open to motor vehicles are called Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs)
- Where motor vehicles can go in the countryside
- public roads with a tarmac surface
- unsurfaced public roads - known as Unclassified County Roads (UCRs)
- Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) - recorded on the definitive map and mainly used for walking, cycling and horse riding as most do not have a surface suitable for ordinary motor traffic
Driving a motorised vehicle on a public right of way without lawful consent is a criminal offence. You can only drive a vehicle on a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway with the landowner’s permission.
- Responsible behaviour for motor vehicle users
- Follow the Countryside Code and Highway Code
- Give way to walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Consider stopping and turning off the engine until other users have passed
- Drive at an appropriate speed. Do not cause damage, be a danger or nuisance to other users, or create excessive noise
- Only use routes with public rights for motor vehicles and without Traffic Regulation Orders in place
- Use a route to travel from A-B in a responsible manner. Travelling back and forth in the same area can cause damage and be a nuisance
- Keep to the route. If a you stray from a right of way onto land with no other rights of public access, you are committing a trespass against the landowner
- Vehicles must be road legal (with tax, mot, insurance etc.) and drivers hold a valid licence
- Avoid routes that are vulnerable in wet weather. Follow any voluntary restraints
- Report irresponsible or illegal use. Promote responsible behaviour to other motorised users
- Take note of advice and codes of conduct issued by the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) and Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA)
- Reporting concerns
Read our policy on the use and management of motor vehicles in the countryside.
Illegal use of vehicles in the countryside is a police matter. To report an offence, contact your local Country Watch Team.
- phone 101
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
If there is damage to the surface of a route, we can look at ways to manage the route. This could include:
- surface repairs
- drainage improvement
We may work with motorised user groups to promote good conduct or a voluntary restraint but if this does not solve the problem, a Traffic Regulation Order may be considered.
- Restricting vehicles
A Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) is a legal order made under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. It can prohibit use of rights of way by certain types of user.
TROs can be seasonal or year-round, permanent or experimental. They can be regulated by a permit scheme to allow a certain level of use.
Public rights of way affected by a TRO have signs at each end of the route.