There will be some major driving changes being brought in this year on top of the recent changes to the highway code which saw the hierarchy of road users change.
However, many drivers should be aware that there are some other changes being introduced including laws on mobile phones and fines for minor driving offenses.
READ MORE The driving laws coming in March
Many of the changes will have influential circumstances to those who get behind the wheel every day.
Here’s nine things that drivers should know about that have been brought in already but are expected to come this year.
1) Law on mobile phones toughened up
From March 25, any drivers being caught using their mobile phone for any reason will be fined and given penalty points.
At the moment, motorists can only be penalized for using a handheld phone for “interactive communication” while driving, meaning anyone using their device to record video, take selfies, snap pictures and scroll through downloaded music are able to avoid fines and points.
But that will be extended to anyone using their phone behind the wheel.
They will also apply to drivers who have stopped at a red light or stuck in traffic.
2) Changes to the hierarchy of road users
The new Highway Code change, that has already been brought in, means changes to who get priority on the road.
Drivers should give way to cyclists and pedestrians on the road including roundabouts.
Rule 186 under the new section says people on the road will need to give priority to cyclists at roundabouts.
It states: “You should give priority to cyclists on the roundabout. They will be traveling more slowly than motorized traffic.
“Give them plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane. Allow them to move across your path as they travel around the roundabout.
“Cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles may stay in the left-hand lane when they intend to continue across or around the roundabout and should signal right to show you they are not leaving the roundabout.
“Drivers should take extra care when entering a roundabout to ensure that they do not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles in the left-hand lane, who are continuing around the roundabout.”
3) Councils will be given powers to fine drivers
Sometime in spring, councils in England and Wales will be given new powers to fine motorists up to £70 for minor traffic offenses such as stopping in yellow box junctions, illegal turns and driving in cycle lanes in 2022.
It will be the first time that councils outside London and Cardiff will be able to do this.
4) GPs and nurses will be able to decide if you’re fit enough to drive
Follow a consultation to help speed up license considerations, nurses and GPs could be soon allowed to decide if drivers are fit enough to drive.
It comes as the DVLA has been criticized for the large amount of backlogs for driving licenses with some complaining about waiting for months for their license.
By law all drivers must meet the medical standards for fitness to drive and each year the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency makes half a million medical licensing decisions.
To help make these decisions, the DVLA often requires questionnaires to be completed by a driver’s doctor or consultant.
Currently, these can only be completed by registered GPs.
However, a consultation that ended on December 6 raised the proposal of allowing other healthcare professionals, such as nurse practitioners, to complete the questionnaires to ease the growing workload on doctors and help accelerate license renewals.
5) Motorists could be banned for parking on pavements
Parking on the pavement is already illegal in London but changes to the law are expected in 2022 that will give local councils across England and Wales the power to issue on-the-spot £70 fines to those who mount the kerb.
A consultation was launched in 2020 which proposed a blanket ban across the country and a decision is expected in 2022.
6) Self-driving cars to be allowed on UK roads
Already in force in some parts of the US, self-driving cars will be allowed on the roads in the UK at some point in 2022.
Owners of the latest cars fitted with Automated Lane Keeping Systems – or ALKS – will be allowed to use these ‘self-driving’ features on motorways from this year.
Legalization of the use of ALKS has been discussed by MPs since August 2020 and is due to be given the green light in a matter of months.
ALKS are categorized as ‘Level 3’ autonomy and can take over control of a vehicle, keeping it in lane so the driver doesn’t need to have any input.
Current UK laws mean drivers can use technology such as lane assist systems, but must remain engaged in the task of driving and aware of their environment – in line with Level 2.
Level 3 ALKS can take full control of the car’s steering and changing of lanes to allow users to take their hands off the wheel completely.
7) New homes to have an electrical charging point
New-build homes, supermarkets and workplaces will have to install charging points as standard by law, while properties undergoing major renovations will also be forced to make the upgrades.
8) speed limiters
New cars will be fitted with speed limiters from July 6, 2022 onwards to improve road safety.
The Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) black boxes will use GPS to work out what the speed limit is and will then ensure the car doesn’t break it.
The UK will follow this legal requirement despite Brexit, as the UK has retained most EU laws for new cars.
ISAs will be mandatory for all new models given ‘type approval’ from July 6. This means any new car brought to market from that date, rather than new cars already in production.
9) More Clean-Air zones being brought in
Oxford, Manchester and more major cities are expected to bring in Clean-Air Zones from 2022.
So by the end of the year most major cities will have a Clean-Air Zone which will charge drivers with certain cars from traveling into the city.
Birmingham already has its own clean air zone, which was brought in in 2021.
Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are set to introduce Britain’s first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) ‘pilot scheme’ in the city center this year.
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