A series of recent and forthcoming changes made to motoring laws mean 2019 could prove to be an expensive year for drivers who fail to brush up on their highway code.
Changes to the amount of room drivers must leave for cyclists, how we use smart motorways, guidelines for learners and the way cars are assessed for their MOT mean there are several new ways road users an fall foul of the law.
How the Highway Code is going to change
There is now a defined amount of space drivers must leave for cyclists when overtaking, or face a £100 fine. The Highway Code says there must be at least 1.5 metres (4ft 11in) between the car and the cyclist, which is roughly the width of a car door.
Those who fail to leave enough of a gap will face a £100 fine.
Changes to smart motorway legislation could see drivers handed points on their licence for driving through a red X sign as well as a £100 fine. Driving under a red X is already an offence which can result in a police prosecution.
Learner drivers on the motorway
In the summer, rules were changed to allow learner drivers to drive on the country’s motorway network. This is a change because previously learners were banned from motorways.
Changes to MOT
New categories were introduced to the MOT last year and many cars will be assessed under the new approach for the first time in 2019. The new categories include:
Dangerous: A car deemed a direct or immediate risk to road safety or the environment. This leads to an MOT test failure.
Major: Could affect the vehicle’s safety, put other road users at risk or affect the environment. Also a failure.
Minor: No significant effect on safety but must be repaired as soon as possible.
Advisory: An issue which could become more serious in the future Pass: Meets the current minimum legal standards for maintenance and condition.
And MOTs could see a further overhaul this year after the DVSA’s head of vehicle engineering Neil Barlow told Auto Express “it would make sense” for manufacturer safety recalls to be included in the tests.
The autumn budget revealed that drivers will see further changes to vehicle excise duty that will hit them in the pocket.
This year, the VED rate will increase in line with inflation – affected both the first-year rate on new cars and the annual tax on all vehicles.
From April 1, the annual rate for all petrol and diesel cars registered after April 1 2017 will increase from £140 to £145 although the £10 hybrid discount will remain.
The first-year rates on new cars will rise in line with the retail price index, meaning increases of up to £65 for the most polluting models. The supplement on cars with a list price of over £40,000 will also rise to £320 per year on for five years.
Owners of of cars taxed under the pre-2017 regime will also see their tax increase by between £5 and £15.
A version of this story was originally published on Yorkshire Post