New Driving Laws for 2019

By: Lisa Harper

There are a number of new driving laws coming into force in the UK in 2019. These laws are set to affect all drivers from the most experienced drivers to those who have only just passed their tests and even those who are still learning.

It’s important you are aware of any new UK driving laws so you do not inadvertently commit a driving offence which could result in a hefty fine and points on your licence.

Smart Motorways

Smart motorways were introduced to increase capacity and reduce congestion on busy motorways. These sections of motorway use monitoring systems to allow traffic to be managed effectively. This can include opening up the hard shoulder as a running lane, implementing variable speed limits and closing lanes when necessary. Smart motorways feature interactive overhead signs which can be altered to indicate the action drivers should take, i.e. speed limit or lane closure.

When a lane is closed on a Smart Motorway, the overhead signage will display a red cross over the corresponding lane. This is usually as a result of an incident, so it is imperative drivers heed the signage and move over into another lane as soon as safe to do so. Continuing to travel in a closed lane can be extremely dangerous, and it is looking increasingly likely that the government will introduce penalties for drivers who ignore the signs. It is thought a £100 fine and up to three points on your licence will be the penalty for continuing to travel in a closed lane. 

New Driver Rules

New drivers who have less than two years’ experience behind the wheel already face more restrictions than the general driver population. As well as stronger penalties for offences, new drivers can only get a maximum of six points on their licence before it is revoked. 

However, the government is currently considering introducing further new driver rules including a graduated driving licence, to help keep roads safer for everyone.

The restrictions being considered for new drivers include;

Curfews – limits on when new drivers are allowed to be on the road

Passengers – limiting the number of passengers a new driver can carry

Speed – separate lower speed limits for new drivers

Engine Sizes – limiting the power output of cars new drivers can drive 

Mandatory P Plates – P could become mandatory for the first two years after passing your test

Alcohol – lower alcohol limits than the general driving population

A pilot scheme for graduated licences will be taking place in Northern Ireland this year. Depending on the success of the scheme, the graduated driving licence could be rolled out to the rest of the UK.

New MOT Rules

New MOT rules came into place in May 2018, so if you need an MOT, there are a few things to bear in mind. Defect categories have now changed to the below;

- Pass = Meets the legal standard required

- Advisory = Could cause an effect in the future

- Minor = Should be repaired as soon as possible but does not affect the safety of the vehicle

- Major = Fails MOT as it affects safety or the environment

- Dangerous = Fails MOT as it has a direct risk to road safety or the environment

As well as altered defect categories, additional checks are undertaken under the new MOT rules. This includes checking; tyres for under inflation, brake pad warning lights, missing brake pad or discs, contaminated brake fluid, reversing lights and Daytime Running Lights. 

Learners on Motorways

Since the summer of 2018, learner drivers have been allowed on motorways as long as they are accompanied by a qualified driving instructor, who has dual controls in the car. The idea behind the introduction is to give learner drivers a better feel for driving on carriageways. It is thought that more learner drivers will take up driving lessons on motorways in 2019, as driving instructors have had time to adjust to the changes.

Therefore going forward you should keep an extra lookout for learner drivers on the motorway. You should take the same precautions you would on any other road i.e. give the learner driver plenty of room and be aware they may make sudden movements as they are not used to anticipating other drivers behaviour.  

Overtaking Cyclists

You may not be aware that a new driving law was introduced in 2018 which meant you could be fined for passing too closely to a cyclist. It reinforces guidelines from the Highway Code on overtaking cyclists which suggest leaving a minimum overtaking clearance of 1.5m. 

Failure to leave sufficient clearance can now result in you getting a £100 fine and three points on your licence. Police up and down the country are being encouraged to penalise those driving dangerously close to cyclists, so it is important you remember to leave plenty of space.

Now you are aware of the new driving laws and regulations that have come into force, you can take steps to make sure you stay on the right side of law. This will help to keep you and other road users safe.

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