Mobile Phone Use
It was found that there was a loophole in the law for driving while using a mobile phone. It is illegal for drivers to communicate using their phone while driving. But, that allowed drivers using their phone for other activities, like taking a photograph, to escape prosecution.
The law is set to be reviewed urgently with proposals to close the loophole by next spring. This will include a blanket ban on holding a mobile phone while driving with 6 points and a fine being the potential penalty.
Permitted use of a mobile phone while driving will be limited to navigation, and will require the phone to be fixed, and operated hands free.
Cyclists & Pedestrians
An update to the law in March introduced penalties for drivers who don’t leave enough space for cyclists when overtaking. This is part of a wider review of the highway code, looking at pedestrian and cyclist safety.
These new penalties include up to £100 fine and three points on your license. And, drivers may also be encouraged to open their door with their left hand. This ‘Dutch reach’ forces drivers to turn their body when exiting their vehicle, meaning they are more likely to notice approaching cyclists.
Graduated Driving Licences
In 2018 the Prime Minister asked the Department for Transport to look into a graduated licensing scheme. Northern Ireland has begun trialing a graduated system this year. This could be rolled out over the rest of the UK in time.
A graduated driving license scheme imposes extra restrictions on newer drivers, such as a curfew or limiting passengers allowed in a car.
Ultra Low Emission Zone in London
In April 2019, the ULEZ came into effect in London. The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is an effort to reduce emissions in London and improve the air quality.
If a car or vehicle doesn’t meet ULEZ standards, then their drivers are required to pay a daily charge when driving in London.
Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) for 2022
ISA systems were approved in 2019 to be fitted in new cars sold from 2022 onwards. As part of the EU’s General Safety Regulation, Intelligent Speed Assistance should make roads safer and lower collisions.
Essentially, an ISA will warn drowsy or distracted drivers, report on incidents, and take other safety measures.
Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) Increase
Vehicle Excise Duty was increased earlier this year, in April. Applying to all cars, annual car tax costs will go up by £5. For higher emission car owners there are additional charges of up to £15.
Motorways for Learner Drivers
This first came out in June 2018, but it is still worth mentioning here. It’s been a rite of passage for some time for a first time driver to go on the motorway after passing their test.
But now, learner drivers can practice on motorways – as long as they are accompanied by an instructor. However, motorway driving still won’t be a part of their driving test.