There have probably been many changes to the highway code since you first learnt to drive. Many of them are small changes that won’t affect your every day commute or maintenance of your vehicle. This year however has brought about some significant new motoring laws, which could affect all of us. It is therefore imperative that you are aware of these new rules so you are not surprised when you get to your next MOT or when you drive next to a learner of the motorway.
We have summarised some of the major new motoring laws below:
1. New MOT Rules
The MOT could become much harder to pass this year. The current advisories system will be no more, vehicles will now be rated out of three categories Minor, Major and Dangerous faults. Minor faults will work like the previous advisory system and therefore a minor fault will not result in a MOT fail. The new dangerous fault however will mean that a car cannot be driven away from the test centre until it has been fixed.
Other changes to MOT legislation regard testable items, these include:
• A check of diesel filters now forming part of the test, if a DPF has been removed or tampered with it will result in an instant fail.
• High definition headlamp bulbs have been outlawed
• Reversing lights will be tested for the first time
• Your car can also fail if brake fluid is visually deteriorated
• Classic cars over 40 years old will now be exempt from testing
2. Fines for misusing motorways
Highways England are getting tougher on motorists who misuse motorways. Inappropriate use of the hard shoulder is an offence under motorway traffic regulations and now motorists will be punished with a £100 fine and three penalty points on their license. Its also been made easier to catch people in the act as new Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras have been introduced on major motorways. If a driver uses the hard shoulder on a managed motorway when it isn’t open, or drives in a lane with a red ‘X’ above it, the cameras will automatically trigger a penalty.
3. Learner drivers allowed on motorways
From 4th June 2018 Learner drivers will be able to take motorway driving lessons with an approved driving instructor.
Learner drivers will need to be accompanied by an approved driving instructor and be driving a car fitted with dual controls. For many years drivers have had the option to take pass plus tests once they have passed their main driving test but government research found that very few drivers were taking these motorway lessons. Motorway driving will not however form part of your driving test.
It is important to note that the change only applies to learner drivers of cars. Learner motorcyclists won’t be allowed on motorways. For more information please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/learner-drivers-will-be-allowed-on-motorways-from-2018
4. Changes to the driving test
Although motorway driving has not made it onto the test criteria there have been some changes to the driving test in 2018.
In addition to the independent driving element of the current test, where the examiner gives no instructions for 10 minutes, the new test will include a section where drivers are expected to follow instructions from a sat nav. This is aimed at proving that they can follow the directions safely.
There have also been changes to the manoeuvres asked of drivers.
Two key manoeuvres have been axed, with drivers now only tested on three – a parallel park on the side of the road, parking in a bay and a pulling up on the right hand side of the road.
Changes have also been made to the ‘show me, tell me’ part of the test. The ‘show me’ questions will be asked during the test. The driver will be asked to demonstrate a function of the car, for example how the windscreen wipers work, or how to demist the windscreen.
5. Tax hike for diesel drivers
Newly registered diesel cars will now be hit with a tax hike of up to £500. These changes will apply to new cars bought after April that do not meet the latest emission standards. For these cars, the Vehicle Exercise Duty will go up one band, adding between £20-£500 to year one rates depending on how dirty the car is.
6. Changes to children’s car seats
Rules around child car seat safety have changed significantly. The biggest change refers to backless booster seat models. New models of backless booster seats will only be suitable for children taller than 125cm or weighing more than 22kg.
You can choose a child car seat based on your child’s height or weight. The car seat required is slightly different depending on which way you decide to choose. Children must use a child car seat until they’re 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first.
The best way to ensure you meet the guidelines is to check out the government guidelines here. If you use the height based system all children below 15 months old must now travel in a backwards-facing car seat.