And 2019 will be no different for drivers – with various new laws coming into force.
From overtaking cyclists to new MOT rules, there’s a number of changes to laws and regulations coming into force this year.
Here’s a breakdown of those to expect and two to look out for.
The Highway Code’s insistence cars should leave a decent distance between them an cyclists when passing (1.5m) is now being strengthened by fines. Following law changes in March, motorists could be fined for not leaving enough space between a vehicle and a bike. Failure to do so could land you with a £100 fine and three points on your licence. Police forces across the country are being encouraged to penalise those who drive dangerously close to cyclists.
Before motorists were only allowed on the motorway once they had passed their full driving test. They are now allowed to get on the country’s largest and busiest roads as part of their lessons, as long as they have a qualified instructor who has dual controls in the car. It is to give them a better feel for driving on the carriageways, but is not yet compulsory.
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:
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.
The tax rates of diesel cars were increased from April 1 2018. This applies to the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), usually known as road tax.
Instead of being fixed at £140 per year, VED rates will now be calculated based on the car’s carbon dioxide emissions.
The highest raise of first-year tax is £500, for cars which emit between 191 and 225g of CO per year. However, those which emit the more environmentally-friendly 111 to 130g/km will only see their tax go up by £40.
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:
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.
The government is considering fines of up to £100 for motorists who drive on lanes which have been closed on a smart motorway.
These lanes are shown by red Xs on automated signs above the motorway, and are used when there is a blockage or accident to prevent further incidents.
Any drivers who ignore the signs in future to take advantage of a clear lane could face fines.
The government is expected to announce that offenders will face £100 fines and three points on their licence.
It is believed they will be modifying roadside cameras to help identify drivers who violate these restrictions.
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