A number of new driving laws look set to affect UK drivers in 2020 and beyond. To help you prepare for these potential changes, we have put together a helpful list of government plans that may affect you or your loved ones.
Graduated Driving Licences (GDLs) are licences that impose a number of restrictions on drivers who have recently passed their test. A number of countries including the US, Australia, and New Zealand have already adopted the scheme and, thanks to early signs of success in these regions, the UK’s Department for Transport is planning on rolling it out across England. The restrictions demanded under GDLs would include: lNo night-time driving lA minimum amount of time spent learning to drive lMinimum age limits for passengers hoping to travel with the new driver Ultimately, whilst these restrictions may seem punitive or stringent, they are designed to help new drivers and members of the public stay safe by reducing the number of people killed or injured on the roads.
- A grace period for parking charges
Some readers may remember that in 2015 council car parks across the UK introduced a new ten-minute grace period for their users. This meant that they had to wait until the grace period had elapsed before they were able to issue a late fine. In 2020, this grace period is set to apply to private parking firms as well as council car parks. This is useful to note if you ever decide to use a private parking company’s services. There is also talk of tackling the aggressive debt collection processes currently used by many private companies, although this not set in stone.
- Low Emission Zones
In a bid to tackle the global climate crisis and improve air quality, cities in the UK are set to introduce Low Emission Zones (also known as Clean Air Zones). There is even talk of banning cars altogether in some cities, including Birmingham and Bristol. Drivers who own cars that do not meet emissions standards will be hit with a fee if they drive through Low Emission Zones. This fee will vary depending on the precise model of the vehicle.
- Smart motorway improvements
According to Highways England, over one hundred people are killed or injured on motorway hard shoulders every year, something the organisation hopes to tackle by reducing the distance between emergency stopping areas on the country’s smart motorways. At the moment, emergency areas are 1.5 miles apart. In 2020, this will decrease to one mile.
- Driving permits will be required when driving abroad
At the moment, it is unclear whether the UK will break from the EU with a deal. If the government fails to secure a deal, UK citizens may have to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order to drive overseas. The number of permits you will need to acquire depends on which countries you plan to drive through and, of course, your ultimate destination. There is one exception to this rule: if you possess a UK driving licence, you will not need an IDP in order to drive through Ireland. If driving permits become necessary, they will need to be obtained from the Post Office. It is important to note, however, that no one is quite sure yet how Brexit will pan out. Remember to keep a close on the UK Government website if you want to keep up with the latest updates.
- Legal loop-holes surrounding mobile phones
In July 2019, a motorist evaded criminal convictions for filming a car crash. At the moment, the law states that drivers must not use their phones to communicate. This means that other activities such as playing games or filming are still prohibited. Fortunately, this loop-hole is set to be closed by Spring 2020, when all forms of phone use will be outlawed. If you’re hoping to change a song on a playlist or check your bank balance whilst driving, you must get a passenger to help you or pull over.