A raft of new motoring laws has been introduced in the first half of 2018, with more likely to be on their way. Keeping track of all the changes can be tricky, whether you’re a driver or work in the motor trade. However, if you fall foul of these regulations, not only could you invalidate your insurance policy, you could face a hefty fine or even a prison sentence. So, what do you need to be aware of when driving on the UK’s roads?
Learner Drivers on the Motorway – The Latest Driving Law to Change
From 4 June 2018, “test-ready” learner drivers can take driving lessons on the UK’s motorways. Any learner wanting to take advantage of this change will need to be accompanied by a driving instructor and in a dual-controlled car.
When it comes to motorway driving, it’s also worth noting that the government is rumoured to be introducing fixed fines and penalties for motorists driving in lanes marked as closed using red “X”s. Rule-flouters will be identified via smart motorways’ roadside cameras. The regulations were initially said to be scheduled for implementation during the spring, but no further details have emerged.
2018’s Car Tax Regulations – Bad News for Diesel Vehicle Drivers
In April 2018, the government introduced new car tax regulations to reduce the number of high polluting vehicles on the road and improve air quality. Firstly, they increased road tax – also known as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) – for new diesel vehicles bought on or after 1 April 2018. While the additional charges only apply for one year, the change means that anyone buying a new car which produces between 111 and 130 g/km of CO2 will need to pay an extra £300, for example, while buying a car that produces 171 and 225 g/km of CO2 will cost you £500 more. You’ll also pay additional taxes if your new vehicle costs more than £40,000, regardless of whether it’s a petrol or diesel car. That’s certainly something to think about before asking your dealer to take the trade plates off that luxurious new car you’ve been coveting.
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The second part of the new car tax rules apply to diesel company cars available under Benefit-in-Kind schemes. The diesel tax supplement paid by motorists paying Benefit-in-Kind rates for diesel cars registered on or after January 1998 rose by 1 per cent on 6 April this year.
Theoretically, these charges don’t apply to cars that meet the Real Driving Emissions, stage 2 (RDE2) emissions standard due to come into force in 2021. However, at present, no diesel vehicles on the market do.
MOT Changes – New Tests and Fault Categories
Changes were made to the MOT for new and used cars in May 2018. Owners of diesel vehicles were hit the hardest; the level of emissions deemed to be acceptable has been lowered and any vehicle fitted with a diesel particulate filter now automatically fails the test if it emits visible smoke.
Both diesel and petrol-powered vehicles must undergo new tests, including brake disc checks. Faults now fall into three categories – minor, major and dangerous. If a vehicle has a major or a dangerous fault, it will automatically fail.
There was some good news for drivers of vintage vehicles, cars registered in or before 1978 don’t now need MOT certificates at all.
Other Changes That Could Be on Their Way
Other driving law changes currently under discussion include nationwide fines for drivers who park their vehicles on pavements and the introduction of “graduated driving licences”, which would place restrictions on the types of vehicles that motorists can drive and how they can use them for the first two years after they have passed their tests.