Drivers Beware! Three Updates You Need to Know

Would you consider yourself an experienced driver? While a lot of us gain more and more confidence in our driving skills as the years go by, we often neglect the importance of being responsible for staying updated with new regulations once we are issued a driving licence.

Being clued up on these updates can help protect yourself and others while on the road and help you avoid unwanted fines.

There have been a few things that were introduced this year, this includes:

  • New MOT test criteria
  • Changes in car tax and parking fees for diesel vehicles
  • New regulations regarding cyclist safety for drivers

New MOT test criteria

An MOT is to make sure that your car is up to standard, ensuring that all the parts are working and would not put you and others in harm’s way if it is on the road. The legal requirement for MOTs is that a car over three years old has to have an MOT every 12 months. If you are caught driving your car after it’s failed its MOT test with a dangerous fault, you could be fined up to £2,500 and receive 3 points on your licence, you may even risk losing your license.

The new MOT test will check the following as well as the pre-existing criterion:

• To see if the tyres are underinflated
• To identify if the brake fluid is contaminated
• Whether there are any leaks in your car that may pose a risk to the environment
• To check If there are any brake pads or discs are missing, or problems with the brake pad warning lights

Failing an MOT test would mean that you should get the relevant new parts for your car before driving it again.

Changes in car tax and parking fees for diesel vehicles

Our awareness for reducing the impacts of human activities has grown especially in the past few years. As part of that eco-conscious mindset, there will be additional fees for owners of diesel vehicles. As of April 2017, first-year tax rates increased significantly for three million diesel drivers in the UK, and rose again in 2019. The standard Vehicle Excise Duty rate (which is often referred to as car tax) of £140 per year was abandoned for that first year on the road, with all vehicles now be taxed according to their CO2 emissions.

For diesel vehicles, that means a difference of as much as £1,565. A diesel vehicle emitting as little as 151g/km of CO2 has a first-year rate increase from £200 to £855, while the driver of a petrol-powered car would be just £530.

Additionally, higher parking fees for diesel vehicle owners were trialled in major cities across the UK such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bath. In some areas of London, on-street parking charges are 50 per cent higher for diesel cars sold before 2015. The increase in price has seen fewer diesel cars parking in areas where the scheme is in place.

If you drive a diesel car, you should be aware of these extra expenses, in the long run you may want to consider switching over to a more eco-friendly option, like a hybrid or an electric car.

New regulations regarding cyclist safety for drivers

There is an increase in cyclists on the road and as a result, it calls for new regulations to be put in to protect them. Since cyclists are significantly more vulnerable than drivers, the Highway Code has introduced new rules. The new rules of the Highway Code states that there must be at least 1.5 metres (or 4ft 11 inches) between the driver and the cyclist. You can be charged up to £100 should you fail to leave a sufficient gap when overtaking a cyclist.

In another attempt to keep cyclists safe, the Highway Code will introduce the ‘Dutch Reach’ method to drivers and passengers in cars. This method encourages those in the car to open their door using the hand furthest from the handle. The act itself forces the person to turn and look behind for cyclists before pushing the door open. While the ‘Dutch reach’ hasn’t been fully introduced in the Highway Code, you can be fined up to £1,000 for ‘car dooring’ as it is considered a criminal offence.

It is understandable that we may miss out on the constant updates to rules and regulations regarding road safety, thankfully, Kwik Fit has put together a handy e-Book that summarises a few of the main changes. This invaluable guide is free to download here.

By educating yourself, you are keeping yourself and others safe while driving. It will also help you stay on the right side of the law, avoiding any unwanted accidents or unnecessary charges. Join the conversation today by using #DrivingIn2019.

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Sam Baines

Sam is an automotive writer with experience of virtually every make, model and specification of car in the UK. If it's got wheels, Sam's got it covered.

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