New UK Driving Laws Explained: 2019 Edition

With an increasing number of cars on the roads, it’s no surprise to see a rise in regulations, changes and laws. We’ve pulled together the key changes for 2019 that motorists need to know about.

Learner drivers can now use the motorway

Previously motorists have had to wait until they have passed both parts of their driving test before driving on the motorway. As of June 2018, learners can now use these roads with a qualified instructor in a dual-control car on their driving lessons. This will be optional for learner drivers.

You could be fined for overtaking a cyclist too close

A 1.5m gap between car and cyclist when overtaking is required according to The Highway Code. This is now going to be supported by fines following 2018 law changes. If motorists do not leave enough space, they risk three points and a £100 fine.

Tax is increasing for diesel cars

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), also known as road tax, will be increased from April and will be calculated according to the carbon dioxide emissions of the car, replacing the current yearly rate of £140.

For the more environmentally-friendly cars – i.e. those that emit 111 to 130g/km –tax will increase by only £40. However, for cars that emit between 191 and 225g/km of CO2, there will be a potential increase of up to £500 for first year tax.

Check out our 15 Best Diesel Cars to Buy blog post to help keep your tax cost down.

MOT Regulations

The defect categories have now increased – something which drivers will need to understand. These now include:

Dangerous – fail. Risk to the environment or road safety and needs repairing in order to pass the MOT

Major – fail. Potential risk to the environment or safety and needs repairing in order to pass the MOT  

Minor – safety is unaffected however its advisable to repair as soon as possible  

Advisory – there’s a chance this could become a problem in the future

Pass – the current legal standard has been met

Additional requirements and checks carried out in the MOT test will now include:

  • Contaminated brake fluid
  • Low tyre pressure
  • Missing brake pads or discs and brake pad warning lights
  • Daytime running lights (vehicles produced after March 2018)
  • Reversing lights (vehicles produced after September 2009)

New cars need an MOT after 3 years. The Government thought about extending this to 4 years, but decided to keep at 3 for safety reasons.

Fines are coming for driving on closed lanes on smart motorways

Motorists who drive on lanes which have been closed on a smart motorway, indicated by a red X sign above (used in the case of an accident or blockage to prevent further incidents) could now face a fine of up to £100 and three points. Cameras are expected to be put in place to monitor this.

A special licence for newly-qualified drivers may be on the way

The government is debating introducing a graduated driving licence for newly -qualified drivers. The RAC predicts this range of restrictions could include:

  • Lower speed limits
  • Curfews
  • Limits on passenger numbers
  • Lower alcohol limits
  • Mandatory P plates
  • Limits on engine power.

Graduated licenses will be tested on a pilot scheme from 2019-2019 in Northern Ireland; if successful, this could be introduced in England too.

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