A quick explainer of the new driving laws for 2022
There’s been so much going on in 2022 already that it can be easy to miss some of the smaller details like updates to UK driving laws. To save you the hassle of having to trawl through them all one by one, we’ve collected them for you. So whether you’re a fleet manager or a private driver thinking about daily car hire, here’s what you need to know.
Changes to the Highway Code
The Highway Code has seen a few slight amendments this year. These mainly focus on giving priority to some of the more vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians, and include some stricter rules for people caught using their mobile phones.
You don’t need telling that it’s already illegal to take calls while behind the wheel in the UK. However, newer legislation introduced means that:
•It’s now an offence to take photos and videos when behind the wheel (even when the car isn’t moving).
•You’re no longer allowed to skip songs on your playlist while driving because it’s considered as distracting, even if it is only for a split second.
•You can no longer play games on your phone, even while stopped at a light.
However, you will still be allowed to use hands free devices for navigation purposes (Google maps etc). Drivers who fail to stick to these new rules could find themselves faced with a £200 fixed penalty, and up to 6 points on their licence.
You might already be familiar with the Dutch Reach method. It may sound like a tasty beverage you’d enjoy at a bar in Amsterdam, but it’s actually a safer way to open your car door. Basically it requires you to reach across using the hand that’s furthest away from the door (so if you’re a UK driver, that would be your left). This forces you to look over your shoulder as you do so, reducing the likelihood of hitting a passing cyclist or pedestrian with the door.
Speaking of cyclists, drivers are now required to leave at least a 1.5 metre gap when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph to give them enough space to manoeuvre when being overtaken. If you’ve ever been a cyclist yourself, it’s probably a new rule you can appreciate!
Pedestrian safety is also a big focus of these new rules. Any vehicle turning into or exiting a road must now stop to let pedestrians cross, regardless of the presence of any crossings.
Now, this is one of the more controversial changes, and not necessarily because drivers are bullish by nature.
The changed guidance relating to the priority to be given at junctions has the potential to be confusing.” said Steve Gooding, the director of motoring research charity, the RAC Foundation. “Knowing that you had the right of way according to the new code is going to be little comfort if you’re the one who ends up getting hurt.
Mr. Gooding is referring to the fact that in order for these new changes to work, everyone has to aware of them. Recent research from confused.com found that 60% of us have never actually checked the Highway Code. And if there’s any confusion about right of way at junctions, let’s be honest, it’s likely to be pedestrians and cyclists who end up in the most physical danger.
Construction of smart motorways are being halted
So that’s all the stuff that will affect your driving from this year onwards - now, let’s move onto the legislation that will affect the roads you drive on. Smart motorways seems the most natural place to start.
Over the last few years, they’ve come under heavy criticism due to safety concerns, and there were calls for a five-year delay to the introduction of all-lane smart motorways back in November 2021. As a result, the government launched an inquiry to review their safety.
The findings by the Commons' Transport Select Committee concluded that the roll-out should be paused until the safety of the new measures can be guaranteed. As a result, it was announced on 12 January 2022 that the rollout of smart motorways has been suspended until at least 2026 (much to the relief of many motorists!).
However, projects that are already underway will continue. Construction on the M27 smart motorway has been going on for nearly two years, and after multiple delays, the work is scheduled to finish around spring 2022.
What’s the deal with Clean Air Zones?
Clean Air Zones are perhaps the nation’s next biggest talking point. London’s ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) was expanded in October 2021, and more of these zones are scheduled to be introduced in the UK soon. Mainly targeting city centres, these low emission zones will be fully operating in Manchester, Bristol and Newcastle by the end of the summer.
London also introduced Britains first zero emissions zone in February of this year. Meanwhile, Scottish cities including Aberdeen, Dundee, and Edinburgh all plan to introduce low emission zones by the end of 2022. Don’t get caught out - be sure to keep up to date with news about low emission zones in your area!
What’s new in the EU?
All of this has so far been about changes back home here in the UK. However some of these won’t just affect us here at home, but those working abroad need to be mindful of changes that have taken place that affect their presence in Europe. (So if you’re an EU exporter, this is for you!)
For starters, UK registered vehicles will no longer require a “Green Card”. This rule was imposed in 2021, but has now been scrapped. And after over 100 years of use, the GB bumper sticker is no longer valid for motorists driving in the EU, so you’ll now require a UK car sticker as a result of Brexit. If you do have GB on your number plate, you’ll need to either get a new one, or add a UK logo to your bumper.
With over 50 years of van, car and minibus hire experience here at Intack Self Drive, we’ve seen many changes to our driving laws. However, no matter the alterations, you can be sure that our reputation for providing quality vehicles at fantastic prices won’t be changing anytime soon.
Our fleet now spans over 300 cars, vans and minibuses, so if you’re a business user looking for vehicles to meet your company requirements, or just a private customer looking for a personal car for short-term use, you can count on us to have exactly the right vehicle at exactly the right price. Feel free to give us a call on 01254 57811, and we’ll be happy to help however we can!