A new year is often a time of change, and a number of changes to motoring laws came into effect in 2019.
From the introduction of fines for dangerously passing cyclists in your car, to stricter rules on smart motorways, ensure you don’t fall foul of any of these rules…
1. Learner drivers can now use the motorway
It used to be the case that learner drivers were only allowed on motorways once they’d fully passed their driving test.
However, in a bid to improve drivers’ confidence on fast, busy roads, learners are now able to drive on motorways as part of their driving lessons, as long as they’re accompanied by a qualified instructor who has dual control of the car.
2. Stricter rules on smart motorways
Smart motorways, which are designed to manage traffic flow using technology, are on the rise in the UK.
And while closed lanes marked by a red ‘X’ have always been off-limits, ignoring the sign means you could now face a fine of up to £100 and three points on your licence, after camera enforcement was introduced in July 2019.
Considering the reasons behind closing a lane could be due to an accident or another incident, such as a broken-down vehicle, it’s easy to see the potential dangers.
3. Penalties for dangerously overtaking cyclists
While it’s a given that you should be extra careful when passing by a cyclist in your car, you could soon be penalised if you’re caught not leaving enough room.
The Highway Code specifies that there’s a distance of 1.5m – approximately the width of a car door – when passing a bike in your car. If you fail to do this, you could face a fine of £100 and receive three points on your licence.
4. Changes to road tax
In 2018’s Budget, it was announced that Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) would increase for cars, vans and motorbikes from April 1st 2019.
This increase, in line with the Retail Price Index, resulted in an additional cost of £5 for most motorists.
However, drivers of high-emissions vehicles faced an extra cost of up to £15, and there's an increase of up to £65 on first-year road tax for new cars.
And don’t forget the changes to the MOT test…
Significant changes to the MOT test were introduced in May 2018. It’s worth reminding yourself of the tougher new rules, especially if your car was last tested before they came into play.
Worryingly, over a million vehicles have failed their MOT test since then, according to figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).