12th September 2018
Motoring law changes that you really need to know about
In 2018, there has already been a significant number of changes to the law surrounding car maintenance and driving on the roads. With even more changes set to be implemented in the coming months, drivers need to be prepared to get clued up fast.
With the aim to keep people safer on the roads whilst simultaneously imposing stricter penalties, the changes look to urge people to reconsider the way in which they drive their vehicles. Changes range from challenging the way in which cyclists and cars interact and share the road space, to clamping down on those operating a vehicle on a learner licence, where the highway code has previously not been followed correctly.
One of the biggest pieces of news in the motoring world includes the changes to the existing annual MOT check. Drivers should familiarise themselves with the new version of the MOT, which now includes new categories for defects on a car. The new categories are:
- Pass: Condition meets the current legal standards
- Advisory: Condition could result in poor performance and negative effects in the future
- Minor: Safety is not affected, but repairs should be implemented as soon as possible
- Major: Condition could result in pollution or danger on the road, affecting safety and the environment. This condition results in a fail
- Dangerous: Condition poses a direct risk to the environment or road safety. This condition results in a fail
The government debated whether the wait time for new vehicles to receive their first MOT should be lengthened by one year, to four years, however, this has been tabled for now. Alongside the changes in condition categories, the Ministry of Transport has also brought in a variety of new checks which will amend the requirements for vehicles operating on the road. The new checks will include:
- Underinflated tyres
- Contaminated brake fluids
- Brake pad warning lights, missing brake pads and missing discs
- Reversing lights
- Daytime running lights
Increasing tax on diesel car
On the 1st of April this year, the Vehicle Excise Duty, known as ‘road tax’, was increased from it’s fixed £140 per year charge, with the VED rate to be calculated based on the cars CO2 emissions. Cars which output between 191g and 225g of CO2 will see the tax rate rise to £500. However, cars which are deemed more environmentally friendly, emitting anywhere between 111g to 130g of CO2 will only see a minimal rise, of around £40.
Cyclists and overtaking
As the ongoing battle between cyclists and drivers continues, the Highway Code has now been amended to ensure that cars leave a considerable distance (1.5m) between themselves and the cyclist when overtaking. Failure to do this has now been strengthened by the addition of fines, implemented back in March.
Police forces across the country have now been tasked with more closely scrutinising drivers who fail to leave enough room and drive dangerously close to cyclists on the road. Failure to do so could land you with three points added to your licence and a £100 fine.
You might have noticed a huge amount of work going on up and down motorways across the UK, with smart motorways being implemented in various locations. The primary goal of these installations is to reduce congestion and support in moving traffic more freely. With variable speed limits and ‘all lane running’ schemes, smart motorways look to improve journey times, reduce the impact on the environment and reduce overall costs.
The government are now considering implementing fines on those who use closed lanes on smart motorways, amounting up to £100 per offence and the addition of three points on their license. Closed lanes are represented by the red X’s on automated signs overhead, which are typically implemented where there has been a blockage or accident, in order to reduce any further incidents.
Learner drivers and newly qualified drivers
Prior to the 2018 changes, learner drivers could not drive on the motorway, with motorway driving not forming an essential part of learning to drive and with lessons only available to those on a Pass Plus course, following a successful standard driving test pass.
Now, as part of their lessons, learner drivers will be able to get on the UK’s biggest and busiest roads, so long as they are accompanied by a qualified instructor who can operate the dual controls in the car. This change may seem daunting to learner drivers, however, it aims to ensure they are more confident when driving on motorways and increase the quality of their driving, once they pass.
There are also further conversations currently underway which could see recently qualified drivers restricted within their driving for the first few years of being a pink licence holder. There are currently no restrictions on new drivers, with ‘P’ plates optional, however, the RAC has created a list of restrictions that they believe could be implemented on new drivers.
- Curfews: New drivers could be subjected to time restrictions during which time they’re allowed on the road
- Passengers: Recently passed drives may be limited to the number of people they can have in their car
- Speed: Alternative speed limits, which are lower than other drivers, could be enforced
- Engine sizes: Although insurance companies will often refuse to cover a new driver on a hugely powerful engine, they may be even further restricted to what they can drive by law
- Mandatory P plates: The currently optional plates could be made mandatory for up to two years
- Alcohol: New drivers could be subject to even lower limits when it comes to drinking alcohol and driving