Five changes to motoring laws in 2019

What are the main changes to driving laws 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 the new driving laws this year...

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. 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.

3. Stricter rules on smart motorways

Smart motorways, which are designed to manage traffic flow using technology, are on the rise in the UK.

While closed lanes marked by a red 'X' have always been off-limits, from 10th June 2019 drivers caught flouting the rules will be fined £100, and receive three points on their licence.

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 of ignoring the signs.

4. Changes to road tax

In last year’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, will result in an additional cost of £5 for most motorists.

However, drivers of high-emissions vehicles should expect an extra cost of up to £15, and there will be an increase of up to £65 on first-year road tax for new cars.

5. Penalties for not wearing seat belts

As it is, drivers in England, Scotland and Wales who are caught not wearing a seat belt are handed an on-the-spot fine of £100.

Under the Department for Transport’s 74 new measures to improve road safety in the UK, penalty points could soon be issued to drivers who don’t belt up.

Road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, welcomes the change, stating that it’s the most direct way of saving lives in road crashes. Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, said:

“The best way of tackling this ever-present issue is to make people believe there is a high chance of being caught. This could start tomorrow if consistent guidelines on using mobile speed camera vans to enforce seat belt laws were issued.

“Making non-wearing of seat belts an endorsable offence is also a quick win. Not only would it persuade more people to take the offence seriously, but it might benefit them to take a seat belt awareness course. People avoid using seat belts for a wide range of individual reasons and these views need to be challenged face-to-face.”

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).

Plus, further changes could be on the way in 2019 to tackle the number of cars on the road with outstanding manufacturer recall notices. The DVSA has stated that it’d be easier and simpler for these safety recalls to be covered in the MOT test.

Published 28th January 2019

Updated 19th July 2019

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