What Do the Words Must and should in the UK Highway Code Mean?
UK Highway Code Wording is explained in the introduction of Highway Code. Still, test takers often have a vague idea about what the words in the official UK Highway Code actually mean.
Understand that some words are more important than others. Pay special attention to rules where the word mustmust and must not are more likely to show up on your UK driving theory test.
The Word Must is a Legal Requirement
UK Highway Code wording is important. When you encounter the words must and must not (often emphasised in capital letters) it is a legal requirement. If you disobey any of these rules you are committing a criminal offence. Study these parts in UK Highway Code carefully.
When you commit a criminal offence, you may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving. Some severe offences may result in prison.
The Word should is a Safe Driving Routine
Other rules of The Highway Code are safe driving routines. You should always follow them for your and others safety. Failure to comply with these rules does not automatically mean that you will be prosecuted. You should however be aware that the Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings. It may be used in civil law under the Traffic Acts to establish liability.
Even if the words do/do not and should/should not act as advisory rules, it does not mean you can ignore them. They call upon your judgement. There might be situations when you are forced to do something else. Be aware that NOT following the advisory rules put you in greater risk of an accident.
Illustration by HighwayCodeGB