The DVLA has released a new set of changes to driving laws in the UK – and there are even more to come.
UK driving licences may no longer be valid in the EU after a no-deal Brexit, and there are further implications for drivers due to Brexit.
Many of the changes relate to emissions and climate change.
As car technology advances, the DVLA has attempted to keep up with the new regulations, Bristol Live reports .
And the complications look set to increase even more if we leave the EU, as UK driving licences may no longer be valid in Europe after a no-deal Brexit.
Here’s everything you need to know about the changes
Low Emission Rules
Going to London?
In April this year London’s new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into effect, replacing the previous T-charge scheme.
It aims to reduce harmful emissions in the capital and improving air quality.
If a vehicle doesn’t meet ULEZ emission standards, the driver will have to pay a charge to drive in the area: £12.50 for most vehicles (cars, motorcycles and vans) and £100 for heavier vehicles like lorries.
The government announced in September 2018 the start of a consultation, supporters suggest it could
In April this year, Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) went up in line with inflation, according to the Retail Prices Index. These VED rises apply to all cars, and for most drivers they unfortunately mean annual car tax costs have already increased by £5.
Existing owners of high emission cars will be charged up to an additional £15, while diesel car owners whose vehicles fail to meet the RDE2 emissions standard (that will become mandatory next year), will continue to pay higher tax rates. Meanwhile new car buyers could face an extra £65 on first-year car tax.
It’s illegal to drive in a lane closed by a red X sign on a smart motorway. If caught, you could receive a fixed penalty of up to £100 and three points, and in some cases stronger penalties. Legislation is not yet completed on this issue.
Highways England plans to start building in more emergency refuge areas across the smart motorway network, with work due to begin on the M25 later this year.
With the conversion of many hard shoulders into running lanes on smart motorways, the RAC have been leading calls to grow the number of refuge areas to reduce the risk for those who may suffer a breakdown or crash further from a refuge area.
Intelligent Speed Assist
Intelligent Speed Assist is one of a feature which will become mandatory for the safety of new cars from 2022 under the EU’s revised General Safety Regulation. The goal is to increase road safety and minimise collisions.
Other soon-to-be mandatory safety systems include warnings for driver distraction and drowsiness, cameras/sensors for reversing, advanced emergency braking, lane keeping assistance and a ‘black box’ data recorder for incident reporting.
Driving Permits and Green Cards
When the UK leaves the European Union, many of us may require new licences. On January 14, 2019 the Government released new guidance informing Brits their current driving licenses will be useless on the continent in a no-deal scenario.
If you’re planning to drive in the EU as a holidaymaker or visitor, you will have to spend £5.50 on an international permit if we leave without a deal. This will be available to purchase from Post Office or driving agencies like RAC and the AA.
You will need to carry a motor insurance green card when driving in the EU and EEA. Contact your insurance provider one month before you travel to obtain green cards for your vehicle, caravan or trailer.
Parking surcharges and new legislation
The Transport Committee is looking at the contentious issue of pavement parking and whether there are ways to increase safety for pedestrians and reduce costly damage to walkways. A pavement parking ban has been in place in London since 1974, however there could be new legislation introduced that would see restrictions extended across England.
A blanket ban is opposed by some, so it’s unlikely that this will come into effect any time soon. The RAC has also been leading the charge to implement a new code of practice that will help protect drivers from unscrupulous parking companies by banning certain practices and create a single, independent appeals process throughout England.
Nearly 10,000 people approached the Citizens Advice Bureau for guidance on parking tickets last year, the latest is that new legislation has been passed but the working group is yet to conclude new code of practice.
Recently qualified drivers
Recently qualified drivers could also face changes once they have passed, with the government even considering bringing in a graduated driving licence.
Currently, new drivers who have been behind the wheel for less than two years face stronger penalties for offences like using a mobile phone.
However, a whole range of restrictions could also be imposed.
The RAC believes these are likely to focus on:
- Curfews – Times when they are allowed to be on the road
- Passengers – Limits for how many passengers a new driver can have
- Speed – Separate, lower speed limits to other drivers
- Engine sizes – Limits on how powerful their cars can be
- Mandatory P plates – These are currently optional, but could be made mandatory for up to two years
- Alcohol – Lower limits than the general driving population
A pilot scheme for graduated licences will be tested in Northern Ireland from 2019 to 2020. This could lead to it being rolled out in England if successful.
People may soon be encouraged to use the “Dutch reach” when opening their car doors.
Drivers will also be instructed to give way to cyclists and pedestrians when turning left.
The reason this is happening is to provide some clarity to the current Highway Code.
According to the Mirror, the new guidelines would bring the UK in line with the US, where pedestrians always have priority.
In 2017, 101 cyclists died in road traffic collisions in the UK.
Some road safety campaigners have said the code does not do enough to explain how drivers should treat cyclists on the road.
Driving lessons on motorways
For years, it was the law new drivers could only use motorways once they had already passed their driving test. They are now allowed to use them as part of a lesson when they are accompanied by an instructor with dual controls in the car.
However, this is only optional – it isn’t compulsory for learners to have lessons on them.
New MOT rules
There are new categories for defects with cars which drivers will have to understand, which are:
- Dangerous – Direct risk to road safety or the environment. Results in a Fail.
- Major – Could affect safety or the environment. Results in a Fail.
- Minor – No effect on safety, but should be repaired as soon as possible.
- Advisory – Could have an effect in future.
- Pass – Meets the current legal standards.
A variety of new requirements are also being included in the MOT for the first time.
These checks include:
- Under-inflated tyres
- Contaminated brake fluid
- Brake pad warning lights and missing brake pads or discs
- Reversing lights (for vehicles newer than September 2009)
- Daytime running lights (for vehicles newer than March 2018).
Some things won’t change though – the government considered lengthening the wait for a vehicle’s first MOT from three to four years, but it will now remain unchanged.
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