The biggest motoring changes drivers need to know for 2019 and beyond

The biggest motoring changes drivers need to know for 2019 and beyond

On 8 April 2019, London’s new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into effect, replacing the previous T-charge scheme, with hopes of reducing harmful emissions in the capital and improving air quality.

The new scheme will apply to most vehicles, including private cars and vans. If a vehicle doesn’t meet ULEZ emission standards, its driver will have to pay a daily charge to drive in the area: £12.50 for most vehicles (cars, motorcycles and vans) and £100 for heavier vehicles like lorries.

Charges will apply 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The ULEZ covers the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge, and will apply in addition to the existing congestion charge. It will then be extended in 2021 to cover all areas within the boundaries of the north and south circular.

Check your vehicle on TFL to see if your car meets ULEZ emission charges. For more information read our guide to ULEZ.  

Clean Air Zones coming soon...

Following a lawsuit from Environmental Law Organisation ClientEarth after the UK breached EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), the government has called for other cities to start reducing emissions by creating Clean Air Zones (CAZ).

Birmingham and Leeds are expected to introduce a CAZ from January 2020, and councils are consulting on or implementing similar proposals in Bath, Sheffield, Greater Manchester, Oxford and Glasgow – although it is possible that UK limits for NO2 will change after Brexit.

Find out more about the emissions charge in Birmingham.

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2. Tax increases

In April 2019, Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) went up in line with inflation, according to the Retail Prices Index (RPI). These VED rises apply to all cars, rather than just new models, and for most drivers they mean that annual car tax costs will increase by £5.

Existing owners of high emission cars will be charged up to an additional £15, while diesel car owners whose vehicles fail to meet the RDE2 emissions standard that will become mandatory in 2020, will continue to pay higher tax rates. Meanwhile new car buyers could face an extra £65 on first-year car tax.

No further VED rises are currently in the pipeline, and fuel duty is frozen until April 2020, but we’ll have to wait and see what November’s budget brings...

For more information, read our handy guide to car tax bands.

3. New MOT rules in place from 2018

In May 2018 the government changed the rules for MOT tests. The new regulations include:

  • New defect categories: dangerous, major, minor, advisory, and pass
  • Stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF)
  • New items to be tested, including tyre inflation, fluid leaks, brake pad warning lights, reversing lights and headlight washers
  • New certificate design
  • MOT exemption for cars over 40 years old

Find out more about the new MOT rules.

4. Diesel surcharges for residential parking permits

It’s been revealed that drivers face a postcode lottery when it comes to the cost of residential parking permits, with costs varying greatly among local authorities.

Meanwhile some London councils have been quietly introducing annual diesel surcharges on residential parking permits, with rates varying greatly across the capital, from £10 a year in the Borough of Barnet, up to £150 a year in the Borough of Merton. Source: Carbuyer

5. Smart motorways to be retrofitted with Emergency Refuge Areas (ERAs)

With the conversion of the hard shoulder into running lanes on smart motorways, the RAC have been leading calls to increase the number of ERAs to reduce the risk for drivers who may suffer a breakdown far from a refuge area.

Highways England now plans to start building in more emergency refuge areas across the smart motorway network, with work due to begin on the M25 later this year.

6. Changes to Insurance Premium Tax

In its Spring Statement the government announced it will launch a consultation into the structure and collection of Insurance Premium Tax. Rates themselves should remain unchanged.

The consultation will begin in the summer but implementation is unlikely to start until 2020 at the earliest.

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Northern Ireland will begin using a graduated driver licencing system this year, with the aim of reducing the number of collisions involving young and newly-qualified drivers.

This new system will place restrictions on younger drivers, including limiting the number of passengers under-24s can take in their car, imposing a 6-month minimum for driving lessons, and making ‘P’ plates mandatory for 2 years after passing.

The results will be monitored to see how effective they are and could potentially be introduced across the UK in the future. Find out more about graduated driving licences.

8. Consultation begins on green-coloured number plates

In September 2018 the government announced it would begin a consultation on the introduction of new green-coloured number plates for certain ultra or zero emission vehicles.

Similar schemes are already in place in Norway, Canada and China, and proponents suggest it could boost the sales of electric cars in the UK, although the lack of charging points presents a stumbling block.

Even if the consultation proves successful, implementation is highly unlikely this year.

Read our guide to electric cars.

9. £420m released for local authorities to tackle potholes

In the 2018 budget, the Chancellor announced that the government would allocate an extra £420 million to local authorities to try and tackle the growing number of potholes on our roads. Although this was music to most driver’s ears, critics argue the figure falls short and a long-term strategy still needs to be found.

Driving and law changes in the future

1. Smart Motorway red X fines

Earlier this year the RAC released research showing more than a fifth of drivers on smart motorways have driven in a lane that’s marked closed by the red X.

It’s illegal to drive in a lane closed by a red X sign and if you’re caught, you could receive a fixed penalty of up to £100 and three points, and in some cases more severe penalties or a court appearance.

Highways England has proposed using cameras on motorway gantries to help catch and prosecute offenders, and in 2017 the Government amended the Road Traffic Offenders Act to enable red X offences to be captured by a remote or automated device.

However, the legislation is yet to be completed. For more information read our guide to smart motorways.

2. Pavement parking ban

The parliamentary Transport Committee is currently looking at the contentious issue of pavement parking and whether there are ways to increase safety for pedestrians and reduce costly damage to kerbs and walkways. A pavement parking ban has been in place in London since 1974, but the committee could recommend new legislation that would see restrictions extended across England.

The inquiry may take some time to reach its conclusion, and a blanket ban is opposed by some, so it’s unlikely that this will come into effect any time soon. Meanwhile, a similar law banning pavement and double parking in Scotland has been included in the Government's Transport Bill so any ban may come into force earlier.

Find out more about the Transport Committee’s inquiry into pavement parking

3. Intelligent Speed Assist will be mandatory for new cars from 2022

Intelligent Speed Assist is one of several safety features that will become mandatory for new cars from 2022 under the EU’s revised General Safety Regulation, with the aim of increasing road safety and reducing collisions.

Other soon to be mandatory safety systems include warnings for driver distraction and drowsiness, cameras/sensors for reversing, advanced emergency braking, lane keeping assistance and a ‘black box’ data recorder for incident reporting.

Despite the UK’s imminent departure from the EU, the Department of Transport has stated the UK will adopt new measures.

Find out more about mandatory speed limiters.

4. New legislation to counter rogue parking companies

The RAC has been leading the charge to implement a new code of practice that will help protect drivers from unscrupulous parking companies by banning certain practices and create a single, independent appeals process.

Nearly 10,000 people approached the Citizens Advice Bureau for guidance on parking tickets last year, with complaints of inconsistent practices, substandard signage, confusing appeals processes and intimidating payment demand letters.

The new legislation has been passed but the working group is yet to finalise the new code of practice.

Find more about the approved legislation.

5. Upcoming government inquiry into road safety

In 2018 the government released an updated road safety statement that outlines what progress has been made in implementing the actions identified in its 2015 statement.

With the fall in the number of road traffic collisions having stalledover the last five years the Commons Transport Committee has announced it will be conducting an inquiry to examine the current approach. The Government will also provide an update on what further plans it has to improve road safety.

6. Highway Code road safety review

In October 2018 the government announced a review of the Highway Code in an effort to enhance road safety for cyclists and pedestrians. The new review will encourage drivers to adopt safer passing practices and use the ‘Dutch Reach’ method when opening their cars.

Read our guide to safely sharing the road for cyclists and motorists.

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