New laws coming into place this year
New MOT rules
This will be the year that it becomes harder to pass your MOT, due to tougher emissions tests.
Vehicles will now be rated in three categories: dangerous, major and minor.
Those cars given a “major” or “dangerous” rating will automatically fail.
Additional criteria to be introduced effects vehicles with diesel filters, with filters that look like they’ve been removed or tampered with granted an automatic fail.
Filters that give out visible smoke of any colour will also be considered a major fault and an automatic fail.
As for other rules, a steering box leaking oil is a minor fault – but if it’s dripping badly, it’ll be bumped up to a major fault.
These new rules come in to force on May 20.
Fines for misusing motorways
Highways England is using cameras on smart motorways to catch people misusing the hard shoulder, normally only opened if there is an incident in another lane.
If you drive in the hard shoulder when it is closed, you could be issued with a fine from March 2018.
Highways England has reportedly sent 80,000 letters to motorists ignoring signs not to misuse the hard shoulder, and will be punishing motorists with fixed charges of £100 and three penalty points from spring.
Learner drivers allowed on motorways
Learner drivers won’t have to wait until they’ve passed their test to be allowed on motorways.
If accompanied by an approved instructor in a car with fitted dual controls, they will soon be allowed to make the journey on to motorways.
The exact date in 2018 will be confirmed nearer the time.
Tax hike for diesel cars
Newly-registered diesel cars will be facing a tax increase starting from April 1.
The first-year Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is going up by one band.
This means a Ford Fiesta would get a one-off increase of £20 while other cars could be hit by a tax of up to £500.
The changes apply to those vehicles that do not meet the Euro 6 engine requirements under the new Real Driving Emissions (RDE).
There is no new diesel car on sale that meets the standard, so they will currently all be subject to a tax increase.
Young drivers could be banned from roads at night
Figures show that a quarter of car crashes that lead to death or serious injuries are caused by drivers aged between 17 and 24.
Now a “Graduated Driving Licence” is being proposed, which is likely to prohibit younger people from driving after dark.
The system may also restrict the engine size for new drivers (to curtail “boy racers”), and could even add a second driving test following this probationary period.
Changes to the driving test
Back in December 2017, various changes were made to the driving test.
These included increasing the time of independent driving (up from 10 minutes to 20), where the person taking the test is asked to follow directions on a sat nav, as well as changed to manoeuvres and knowledge of car functions.
You’ll now be tested on one of the following three manoeuvres: parallel park at the side of the road; park in a bay – either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out; pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths and rejoin the traffic.
NOT FORGETTING THOSE BAD HABITS THAT CAN RACK UP POINTS
We’ve all got our own habits as drivers, from running the petrol meter right the way down to splashing people when we drive through puddles.
There are many things that we know are illegal to do when driving.
Disobeying the speed limit and using our mobile phones are among the more obvious, but there are plenty more that could end up with motorists being fined or handed penalty points.
Here’s seven driving habits which could get you into trouble – how many of them are you guilty of?
1. Splashing pedestrians with water from a puddle
Soaking pedestrians falls under section three of the Road Traffic Act 1988, which states that motorists are committing an offence by driving “without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road”.
Drivers could even get fixed penalty notices for doing it.
The people who never seem to be a rush to get anywhere and coast along as if they enjoy motorway driving could find themselves in just as much trouble as the speedsters.
While there is no minimum speed limit on most UK roads, driving too slowly can still be a punishable offence if it proves to be hazardous to other motorists.
Roughly 140 accidents are caused by slow drivers annually, according to The Department for Transport.
The maximum penalty for slow driving could be as many as nine points on your licence and an unlimited fine.
3) Eating at the wheel
Eating while driving is neither convenient nor safe and an alarming amount of us do it.
Statistics released last year revealed that 64% of British drivers have admitted to eating while driving.
If you are distracted by the pie you are tucking into and fail to operate the vehicle correctly you could face a penalty.
The Highway Code Rule 148 states “safe driving and riding needs concentration” and advises against eating, drinking, smoking, listening to loud music and trying to read maps while behind the wheel.
Smoking is also illegal in a vehicle carrying someone who is under 18.
4) Beeping your horn – aka road rage
We all know the correct purpose of a car horn and we know that doesn’t include using it to emphasise your fury at others road users.
Actually in doing so you are breaking the law.
You also can’t beep your horn between 11.30pm and 7am unless in an emergency situation.
5) Taking certain prescription drugs
If you’re taking medication and driving you ought to be careful.
There are some prescription drugs which, if found in your system, could lead to be being charged with drug driving.
Obviously illegal and recreational drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis are included in the drug-driving laws, but there is a long list of prescription drugs that could see you banned.
The legal medication that could result in a drug-driving charge:
- Amphetamine, eg dexamphetamine or selegiline
- Morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentanyl
6) Removing your pet from the car if you break down
Enter the more obscure laws.
Taking your pet out of your vehicle after you’ve broken down could land you with a fine.
Which might be confusing because if you break down on the motorway, the usual instruction is to exit the vehicle and find a safe place.
So you will just have to wave at them from the verge, sorry.
7) Having a dirty number plate
Yes, believe it or not, a muddy number plate could also get you into trouble.
Vehicle registration plates must be visible at all times and if they are not, guess what? It’s a fine.
Next time you are giving the motor a once over, don’t neglect the plates.