There have been a host of changes made to the Highway Code and 2019 is the first full year in which they’ll come into effect.
So what can drivers expect from the new legislation? And how might it impact on motorists daily driving and car management habits?
Learner drivers on motorways
Watch out for learner drivers on motorways! For the first time, drivers who are still learning prior to the driving test are allowed to practice on motorways.
Fortunately, it’s only as long as they’re with a qualified instructor and are at the wheel of a vehicle with dual controls so the instructor can take over if necessary.
However, there won’t be any requirement in the test itself for a learner to show their skills on motorways.
New ‘smart’ motorway fines
Drivers can be fined £100 and have three points put on their licence if they’re caught in certain designated closed lanes on so-called ‘smart motorways’.
Motorists might find themselves in trouble if they’re caught driving in lanes marked with a red ‘x’. The ‘x’ is usually indicated in automated signs that hang above the road.
Such lanes are usually closed when there’s a serious blockage ahead, or after accidents, and cameras will be trained on the lanes to catch offenders.
New types of licences
Drivers who have recently passed their test potentially face harsher penalties during the first two years on the road after this year.
Speeding, using a mobile phone and careless driving may all be punished more rigorously than for those who have been driving for longer.
Other restrictions for new drivers are expected to be imposed involving curfews for driving times, the number of passengers, engine size and alcohol limits.
A pilot scheme is being tested in Northern Ireland this year and, if deemed a success, it could be rolled out across the rest of the UK.
Until this year, it didn’t really matter how close a driver got to a cyclist when overtaking one as long as they didn’t hit them. Drivers have simply been expected to be aware of how close they are, without specific guidance
However, from now on the Highway Code states they could face fines of £100 if they don’t leave at least 1.5 metres, or 4.9 feet, between their vehicle and a cyclist.
Under the old legislation it was illegal to park your car using a mobile device, whether you’re in the car or outside.
However, the new Code rules reflect the fact that many cars can now be parked remotely. They allow drivers to be outside or inside the vehicle and use a device to instruct it to park, as long as they’re within 6 metres.
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