Last year several driving laws were introduced to improve road safety, and more new rules are expected to follow throughout 2019 in addition to those new laws already in place or coming soon.
2018 saw changes made to the MOT testing procedure. It was sorted in to three new categories to help assist the motor trade when carrying out a vehicle MOT inspection, these were dangerous, major and minor, with a dangerous or major fault instantly failing the test. Learners were also allowed to drive on motorways from June 2018, they could practice driving on motorways if accompanied by an instructor. So, what do drivers need to be aware of for 2019.
- Smart motorway penalties
- Improved road safety for cyclists
- Graduated driving licence scheme
Smart motorway driving
The government is looking to implement a new £100 penalty for all motorists of new and used cars that use lanes marked with an ‘x’ on smart motorways. Usually, motorway lanes marked with an ‘x’ mean the lane is closed to help authorities manage traffic incidents, things like accidents or an obstruction in the road. In addition to the £100 fine, it’s also expected drivers could be given three points on their driving licence, which is not ideal for your insurance policy renewal cost.
There is also to be a clampdown on the dangerous overtaking of cyclists. Cycling UK has been calling for changes to be made to the Highway Code, they want it to include an actual safe minimum distance when overtaking a cyclist. A 4ft 11in (1.5 metre) gap between a car and a cyclist is the recommended safe distance. The police are already targeting drivers who pass cyclists too closely, being found guilty could lead to a £100 fine and prosecution for driving without due care and attention.
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Graduated driving licences
Last year the Prime Minister asked the Department for Transport (DfT) to investigate the possibility of a graduated licencing scheme (GDL). GDL schemes already operate in other countries, they involve subjecting new drivers to several restrictions once they have passed their test, just for a limited period whilst they build up their experience, for example:
- Road time curfews
- Lower speed limits than other drivers
- Passenger number restrictions
- Limits to vehicle engine size
Safety is one of the main reasons behind GDL schemes, one leading road safety charity said that following the introduction of a GDL scheme in New Zealand, car crash injuries reduced by 23% for 15-19-year olds and 12% for 20-24 year olds.
It was revealed by the UK government a ‘pilot’ scheme would be launched in Northern Ireland some time in 2019/20, and if proved to be successful, the initiative would be rolled out across the UK.