Changes are being made to UK driving laws in April that could result in heavy fines and points on your licence.
Everything from tax to mobile phone usage will be affected, with this first set of changes forming part of a wider 25-point plan to update motoring laws.
Andy McInnes, from Stoneacre Lincoln on Lincoln Fields, advises: “The main aim of the new laws is to make driving safer and more environmentally friendly, with heavier penalties for driving while on your mobile, and the introduction of clean air zones in larger cities.
“We wanted to outline these new laws and explain some of the jargon to ensure no Lincoln drivers are caught out.”
1. Mobile phone ban
“While there has been a ban on using a handheld device while driving for the past 18 years, the Government is looking to crack down on the issue by introducing a £200 fine, as well as six penalty points, for anyone who breaks this law. The law also includes vehicles that are waiting at traffic lights or at a complete standstill. If you wish to use your mobile phone while in your car, you need to park up where it is safe to do so.
“This update will also cover a significant loophole in the previous law which couldn’t penalise drivers for taking photos or videos while driving.
2. Local clean air zones
“Be aware when booking UK holidays and plan your route before travelling, because clean air zones are being introduced in a number of cities, including Birmingham, Bristol and Bath, as well as several Greater London boroughs. The measures have been introduced to help tackle CO2 emissions in cities, and the cost varies from £8 to £100 a day, depending on your vehicle and the location.
“It is also important to note that not all drivers have to pay. Vehicle exemptions range from an ultra-low-emission vehicle, for a disabled tax class vehicle or a historic vehicle. Different cities have different rules on exemptions, so it’s always worth double checking with the city council’s website.
3. Pavement parking
“Government officials are currently deliberating whether to extend London’s ban on pavement parking to the rest of the UK, so it’s a good idea to get into the habit of parking fully on the road now.
“Many drivers think they’re being considerate by making their car take up as little room on the road as possible, but forget that not all pedestrians are able to squeeze through the small gap this leaves – especially wheelchair and mobility scooter users.
“If this law does get passed, drivers who rest wheels on the pavement could face up to a £70 fine.
4. Fuel duty freeze
“Lincoln drivers will be pleased to hear it was announced in the annual Budget that fuel duty will be frozen for another year, since cars are still being considered a transport safety measure during the pandemic.
“The tax is currently 57.95 pence per litre of petrol, diesel, biodiesel and bioethanol – the same rate for the tenth year in a row.
5. Driving lessons and tests
“Those who were learning to drive prior to the pandemic will be allowed to get back behind the wheel from April.
“Although the Government announcement also said that practical driving tests would be allowed to continue at the end of the month, this is dependent on the rate of Covid-19 infections continuing to slow.
“In August 2020, 140,000 eager learners queued to book one of the 35,675 available driving test appointments, which actually lead to the website crashing! Make sure to book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
“If you’re looking to upgrade your car prior to getting back out on the road, many car retailers are offering excellent deals at the moment. Stoneacre Lincoln is offering 0% APR finance and a 24-month unlimited-mileage warranty on all its Volvo Selekt Approved Used cars from Friday 23 April until Monday 26 April 2021.