The new year has arrived, but as 2018 eases into gear are you up to speed with changes in motoring law, regulation and taxation from 2017?
Here’s our round-up of what changed for drivers over the past 12 months.
Keeping on top of new rules and regulations will help you avoid fines, penalty points and even disqualification. It’ll also ensure you can budget for the year ahead with changes including the likes of how vehicles are taxed.
Here’s a quick look back at changes, which came into force during 2017, and how they could impact your motoring.
How you use your mobile phone, March 1, 2017
Using a mobile phone while driving can make a motorist twice as likely to crash as a drunk driver. This prompted tough new legislation that came into force during 2017.
What’s changed? While it was already illegal to use a phone while driving, 2017 welcomed much tougher penalties to target offenders.
Until March 2017, drivers using a mobile device could expect just 3 penalty points on their licence and a fine of £100.
From March onwards, anyone using a phone while driving, could expect the following penalties…
First-time offenders: 6 penalty points and £200 fine
Repeat offenders: Court appearance where they’ll face a ban of at least 6 months and £1,000 fine
Newly qualified drivers: Those who’ve been driving for less than 2 years face having their licence revoked after a first offence and made to drive as a learner until they pass their test again.
Child seat rules, March 1, 2017
Did you know that rules governing how kids are carried in cars changed on March 1, 2017? New legislation means it’s now illegal to have a car seat incorrectly fitted or sized.
What’s changed? From March, only children who weigh more than 22kg or are at least 4ft 10in tall are supposed to use the backless booster-type seats that rest on a car’s seating.
All under-12s and any kids less than 4ft 5in tall, must travel in a special car seat.
Once they reach 12 years old or the minimum height of 4ft 5in, kids can then travel in a car’s regular seats.
Babies who are 15 months or younger must be seated in a rear-facing travel seat, while those weighing less than 9kg should travel in a baby carrier.
Do I need to replace my seats that don’t comply with the new rules? The new rules will only apply to new purchases made after March 1, 2017, so mums and dads won’t be fined for children using the backless booster seats if they were bought before this date. It’s difficult to see how this will be enforced – will parents be expected to carry receipts?
Check your child’s seat for a recall
Just like cars are subject to recalls to address safety issues, the same applies to car seats. Use this fast, free interactive tool to check if your model has a recall notice.
Speeding fines, April 24, 2017
April saw the introduction of a new way to calculate speeding fines. Missing this one could leave you nursing a severely bruised bank account if punished for breaking speed limits.
What’s changed? April 24, saw three bands of severity added to rank speeding offences.
Additionally, how much you earn will also be used as part of the formula to determine any resulting fine.
Here’s how the speed bands and what you earn will be used to tot up any fine you receive for a speeding offence.
|MPH over speed limit||Fine (% of weekly wage)||Points on licence or length of ban|
|Band A||1mph to 10mph||25-75%||3 points|
|Band B||11mph to 20mph||75-125%||4-6 points or 7-28 days|
|Band C||Over 21mph||125-175%||6 points or 7-56 days|
Depending on where you were caught speeding and how fast you were going over the speed limit, you’ll be placed into one of the above bands.
What you’ll be fined depends on what band you fall into, which will then dictate how much of your weekly income you’ll be charged.
Speeding in Europe, May 6, 2017
There was a time when Brits could only receive on-the-spot fines for speeding offences committed in Europe. However, all that changed in May, 2017.
What’s changed? An all-new EU cross-border directive came into force for Brits driving on the Continent.
The EU Cross-Border Enforcement Directive is designed to help host countries track down foreign motorists who break laws – and often escape punishment due to international red-tape.
The directive covers the following offences – and anyone recording one while in Europe will now face a penalty charge.
Not using a seatbelt;
Not stopping at a red traffic light or other mandatory stop signal;
Driving under the influence of drugs;
Not wearing a safety helmet (for motorcyclists);
Using a forbidden lane (such as the forbidden use of an emergency lane, a lane reserved for public transport, or a lane closed down for road works);
Illegally using a mobile phone, or any other communications device, while driving.
Car tax fees, April 1, 2017
April also brought higher first-year and one-off payments for new cars and adjusted second-year fees for older vehicles.
The new rules also upset owners of low-CO2 vehicles, such as hybrids, because many lost their zero-rated road tax entitlement.
New rules mean that only all-electric cars that cost under £40,000 benefit from paying no road tax.
What’s changed? Along with the revised ratings for low-CO2 vehicles, first-year rates have been updated, while second-year rates will be worked out depending on fuel and type of car.
Additionally, cars costing over £40,000 will pay a £310 surcharge.
The full list of post-April 2017 rates are as follows:
VED road tax charges for cars registered from April 2017: From April 2017, the amount you pay for VED (also known as road tax) will increase for most vehicle owners. Many motorists who buy low-emissions vehicles will find they have to pay VED for the first, time. The new VED charges are as follows.
|Emissions (g/CO2/km)||First year rate||Standard rate|
|Cars with a list price of more than £40,000 when new pay an additional rate of £310 per year on top of the standard rate, for five years|
Will I pay more for my old car after the April 2017 changes? No. Pre-April 2017 tax bands won’t change for cars that were already registered. This will remain the case if they are sold. This could result in sub-100g/km cars attracting a hefty premium when sold on the used market as they will still be charged no VED. The same can be said for higher-polluting vehicles, too, which will also retain the same VED rates for examples registered before 1 April, 2017.
There’s more pain coming for diesel drivers in 2018, with the Chancellor Philip Hammond using his autumn Budget to push up the first-year payment that buyers of new oil-burners will be forced to pay.
London T-Charge, October 23, 2017
In a bid to further crackdown on London’s worsening air quality, a new Emission Surcharge came into force on October 23, 2017.
This charge is in addition to the current Congestion Charge and will see some car owners paying out up to £22.50 a day to drive in central London.
What’s changed? Instead of paying from £11.50 to drive in central London, the car drivers of ‘dirtier’ vehicles will now have to pay an additional £10 surcharge.
The charges apply Monday to Friday 07:00 – 18:00.
There is no charge on weekends, public holidays and between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Charges do not apply between 18:00 and 07:00 on weekdays.
Drivers should also note that fines have just increased to £160 if you forget to pay the Congestion Charge.
Do I need to pay the T-Charge? Use this tool to instantly check if your vehicle will leave you open to the £10 charge.
Driving test changes: December 4, 2017
December saw a major change in how the practical driving test is carried out. The update was designed to modernise the test and react to changes in how we drive and the new technology used by drivers.
What’s changed? The new driving test came into force on 4 December 2017. The four changes were:
1) An increase of the ‘independent driving’ part of the test from 10 to 20 minutes:
This section currently lasts around 10 minutes, but will be extended to 20 minutes from December 4.
Candidates will be asked to drive without ‘turn-by-turn’ directions from the examiner.
With the extension, this will now account for around 50% of the test time.
2) Asking candidates to follow directions on a sat-nav as an alternative to following road signs:
During this section the independent driving section of the test, the majority of candidates will be asked to follow directions from a sat-nav device.
The examiner will provide the route and set it up in the device. You won’t be asked to programme the sat-nav unit, so it doesn’t matter what make or model you practise with.
However, you won’t be able to use your own sat-nav device. The examiner will provide one for the driving examination.
You can ask the examiner for confirmation of where you’re going if unsure. It will not matter if you go the wrong way, providing you don’t make a mistake while you’re doing it.
You’ll be able to ask the examiner for confirmation of where you’re going if you’re not sure. It won’t matter if you go the wrong way unless you make a fault while doing it.
The DVSA says that 1-in-5 driving tests won’t include the use of sat-nav, these will include the use of road signs instead.
3) Replacing current manoeuvres such as ‘reversing around a corner’ and ‘turn in road’ with more ‘real-life’ scenarios, such as driving into and reversing out of a parking bay:
While these won’t be included in the test from December, instructors should still teach them.
During the test, candidates will be asked to do one of the following reversing manoeuvres:
Parallel park at the side of the road
Park in a bay – either driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out (the examiner will tell you which you have to do)
Pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for 2 car lengths and rejoin the traffic
4) Asking one of the two vehicle safety questions while the candidate is driving, for example, asking candidates to use the rear heated screen:
The examiner will ask candidates two vehicle safety questions during the driving test – these are the ‘show me, tell me’ questions.
DVSA describes these questions as follows:
‘Tell me’ question (where you explain how you’d carry out a safety task) at the start of your test, before you start driving
‘Show me’ question (where you show how you’d carry out a safety task) while you’re driving – for example, showing how to wash the windscreen using the car controls and wipers