Staying ahead of the game always beats getting caught out, so as part of our Wheelie Wednesday series, we wanted to have a look at updates to driving laws here in the UK. We’ll also look at any other changes which could be on the horizon for motorists.
Bidding farewell to paper tax discs
From the 1st of October, windscreens across the UK will become less cluttered, as the DVLA has finally implemented plans to do away with the paper tax disc. No longer will motorists have to painstakingly attempt to avoid tearing their perforated tax discs, as applications and renewals will all be done online or at a Post Office, with no need to stick anything in the often flimsy plastic holders. Motorists will still need to ensure their vehicles are taxed though as ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras will be keeping a lookout for untaxed vehicles, which may attract a £1,000 fine.
The new laws surrounding road tax also affect buying and selling cars, as remaining tax can no longer be sold or transferred along with a vehicle to its new owner. Anyone buying a car will be responsible for ensuring that it’s taxed, and sellers will be able to claim refunds for any outstanding tax. The government hopes the new system will reduce the number of road tax dodgers and result in slightly cheaper premiums, along with environmental paper-saving costs.
New drug driving laws
Expected to come into force in March 2015, the new laws (which are almost certain to be passed by the government) set out levels of certain drugs a motorist is allowed in their body before they end up being over the limit. This is similar to how drink driving laws work, allowing a certain amount of alcohol in a driver’s system. Anything above this ceiling will constitute an offence.
A criminal record, a fine of up to £5,000 and at least a one-year ban from driving may await those who exceed the new drug driving thresholds. The laws will cover harder drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, along with drugs typically perceived as softer. Police will be able to stop motorists and test them for drugs; so if a driver relies on a certain drug for health reasons, such as Morphine or Temazepam, it would be wise to carry proof in their vehicle. A doctor’s note would be sufficient.
No change to the driving age - yet
Back in Autumn/Winter 2013, many websites and other publications were discussing the possibility of the government increasing the minimum legal driving age in the UK to 18. This is something different governments have been proposing for decades, although nothing has officially changed as of time of writing. It’s always good to check the direct.gov.uk website to verify any laws and regulations, and the site still states the age you can learn to drive as 17 for cars and 16 for motorcycles.
The most recent proposed changes were aimed to make driving safer, as new drivers tend to contribute to the most accidents. Much of the proposed policy can be found in the Department for Transport’s report entitled “Novice Drivers: Evidence Review and Evaluation”. These include new drivers having to rack up at least 100 supervised hours behind the wheel in daylight and 20 hours at night, as well as a 10pm to 5am curfew being imposed.
In addition to this, passengers under the age of 30 would be barred from travelling in the car, whilst new drivers would have to be accompanied by a passenger of at least this age. They would also drive on a probationary driving license until they turned 18.
This and a few other proposed updates to the New Drivers Act haven’t been introduced but who knows what the future will bring.
Driverless cars and how the law will have to adapt
Only a couple of months ago, our coalition government announced that from as early as next spring, driverless cars will start appearing on roads here in the UK. We’re talking about pretty impressive, fully-automated technology, which makes current advances in automation like radar cruise control seem rather feeble. Across the pond, completely driverless, self-driving cars have already been thoroughly tested, in States such as California and Nevada. The rules are slightly less restrictive there, whilst in countries like Japan, driverless cars have also taken to public roads. In the UK, scientific tests have so far been confined to private roads and ‘proving grounds’ like Mira in the Midlands.
Google is pushing for cars such as its futuristic bubble-like car, which doesn’t even have pedals or a steering wheel, to be allowed on the roads as soon as possible. Here in Britain, the government is rather more cautious. An amendment was, however, made to our laws in May 2014 allowing computer-controlled cars to be tested as long as they can be overruled by a human, sitting in the driver’s seat, using conventional controls. As companies like Nissan and Volvo also get in on the driverless car scene, the future looks very interesting and also perhaps a little unnerving; but we guess it’s always been inevitable that cars will one day all drive themselves.
- On: 01 October 2014
- By: CarShop
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