Motorists are being urged to swat up on their driving knowledge as several new laws and rules are set to come into effect this year.
The changes include tweaks to the Highway Code, more clean air zones and parking fines for electric vehicles.
It’s been illegal to use a mobile phone for calls or texts while driving since 2003, but the legislation has changed. It’s now an offence to hold a mobile while driving for any reason, including taking pictures. Meanwhile, motorists who run out of fuel while driving and obstruct traffic could face a £100 fine and points on their licence so it’s important to plan ahead. These rules also apply to electric car drivers, and owners are now at risk of being caught out if their battery runs flat and they block a road.
Drivers under 25 may be stopped from carrying passengers under the same age. This long-awaited move, supported by IAM RoadSmart, could see a ‘graduated driving licence’ which would act as a probation period for young drivers. The plans are set to be discussed by Transport Minister Richard Holden at a road safety meeting on 16th May.
Several city and town councils have been handed new traffic powers to fine drivers for offences previously handled by the police. Local authorities, including Surrey, Reading and Derby will monitor yellow box junctions and potentially issue fines of up to £70.
A box junction is a type of traffic-control measure consisting of a square or rectangular set of yellow lines, crisscrossed with further diagonal yellow lines.
The London Ultra Low Emission Zone is expanding from 29th August. It currently covers parts of Central London but will be rolled out across all the city’s boroughs this summer and will also take in parts of Hertfordshire, Kent, Essex and Surrey. Any vehicle that exceeds the new emission standard could be charged £12.50 per day.
The Glasgow Low Emission Zone (LEZ) will come into force from the 1st of June. All vehicles entering the city centre zone area will need to meet the less-polluting emission standards or face a penalty charge of £60. The other main cities in Scotland will follow in the next few months.
The Welsh Government has announced that a speed limit of 20mph will be introduced on all residential roads across the country from 17th September. Wales will become one of the first countries in the world and the first UK nation to introduce such legislation to improve road safety.
“It’s important all motorists are made aware of these upcoming changes to avoid any unnecessary fines. Young drivers are most at risk on UK roads, so progress on a new graduated licence approach where they can build experience to reduce the number of needless tragedies on our roads is vital.”