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The new driving laws coming into force in 2019

View profile for Paul Loughlin
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If you are a driver there are several new driving laws due to come into force this year that you need to know about. There are 48 million drivers on our roads and these new laws will affect everyone from the most experienced drivers to those who have only recently passed their test or are still learning. Motoring offences can incur large fines so familiarise yourself with the new laws in advance to ensure you don’t get caught out.

Learner drivers on motorways

Traditionally learner drivers were not taught to drive on motorways, with most people learning how to navigate them after passing their tests either by themselves or as part of extra lessons with an instructor. This is due to change in 2019 when learner drivers will be given the option to drive on the motorway as part of their lessons when accompanied by an instructor with dual controls in the car.

Tax increase for diesel cars

This year owners of diesel cars may see their road tax prices increase. Instead of being fixed at £140, road tax will be calculated based on the vehicle’s carbon dioxide emissions. For cars which emit 191 – 225g of carbon dioxide the road tax could be increased by up to £500.

Overtaking cyclists

The Highway Code states that cars wishing to overtake a cyclist should leave as much distance as they would when overtaking a car (1.5 metres). Failure to abide to this rule has not previously carried a punishment but as of March the failure to leave this distance could result in a £100 fine and three points on your driving licence.

Restrictions for newly qualified drivers

New drivers who have held their licence for less than two years currently face higher penalties than more experienced drivers for offences such as using a phone at the wheel. However, more restrictions could also be placed on new drivers and the government is trialling a pilot scheme of graduated licences in Northern Ireland between 2019 and 2020. If successful the scheme could be rolled out to the rest of UK. The RAC believes that the further restrictions could include:

  • P plates being mandatory for up to two years after passing their driving test
  • A restriction on the engine size of their car
  • Lower alcohol limits
  • Lower speed limits than other drivers
  • A limit on the number of passengers they can carry
  • A curfew

MOT rules

The categorisation of defects on cars will change to the following:

  • Pass – meets the legal standards
  • Advisory – could cause an effect in the future
  • Minor – should be repaired as soon as possible but does not have an effect on safety
  • Major – Fails MOT as it effects safety or the environment
  • Dangerous – Fails MOT as it has a direct risk to road safety or the environment

New checks during an MOT will also be introduced including underinflated tyres, brake pad warning lights, missing brake pads or discs, contaminated brake fluid, reversing lights and daytime running lights.

Fines for the incorrect use of smart motorways

Smart motorways display a red ‘X’ above lanes which are closed due to an accident or blockage. Motorists who ignore these signs and continue to drive in these lanes could be subject to a fine of £100, however this is something that the government are still considering.

It is important that all drivers are familiar with, and stay up to date with, changes to motoring laws to avoid prosecutions such as fines, penalty points and the loss of their licence. If you require legal advice regarding a motoring offence please call our specialist team on 0175 321 6399.

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