Self-driving cars, further phone restrictions, and new speed limiting technology are among the likely changes motorists face during 2022 in the United Kingdom. Let us summarise the key points.
The Government will tighten the law to further restrict hand-held phone use while driving. As of now, it is illegal to press the buttons necessary to make calls and send texts unless there is a genuine emergency. It will soon also be illegal to take photographs, film videos, scroll through playlists, and play games.
However, motorists will still be allowed to use their devices hands-free if they are mounted on a cradle. As a sat-nav, for instance. They will also be permitted to make contactless payments while stationary such as at drive-through restaurants. Motorists that break the new law will get a £200 fine and six penalty points.
In 2022, the Government will legalise the use of automated lane keeping systems on the motorway. Cars will steer autonomously and maintain a safe distance from traffic. Drivers will then be permitted to take their hands and feet off the controls – but must be ready to intervene if required. The vehicles will be restricted to 37mph, but might later be permitted to go faster if proven safe.
Councils to fine motorists
Councils in England and Wales will be given the power to fine drivers for offences such as stopping in yellow box junctions, entering cycle lanes, and illegal turns. The maximum fine will be £70. At present, only London and Cardiff councils have such power.
The Highway Code will be updated to include a hierarchy of road users. The people most likely to be hurt will be toward the top of the hierarchy and the least vulnerable at the bottom. The order will be: pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists, cars and taxis, vans and minibuses, large passenger vehicles and heavy goods vehicles. Road users who can do ‘the greatest harm’ will have the most responsibility to minimise the danger they pose to others.
The hierarchy of road users will apply to many scenarios. A car driver turning into a junction will have to give priority to pedestrians waiting to cross the road on foot, for example. At present, the pedestrians only have priority once they are crossing.
Electric car chargers
New homes and offices will need electric car charge points from 2022 in the United Kingdom. The Government hopes this will encourage drivers to swap from traditional cars to cleaner, zero emission, electric models that cannot pollute at the point of use.
New cars introduced to the market must have intelligent speed assistance to stop drivers exceeding the limit, from July 2022. Consider an example. A car will recognise its location via the global positioning system, and thus the speed limit. If it is travelling too fast it will cut engine power to make the throttle less responsive. There will also be visual and audible alerts. The driver will be able to override or turn off the system if required.
Clean air zones
Oxford, Aberdeen, Manchester, Newcastle and other cities will introduce clean air zones in 2022. Rules will vary by location, but in general terms drivers in more polluting vehicles will be charged to enter. Those in more eco-friendly vehicles will get in for free.
Drivers may be banned from parking on the pavement throughout England, in 2022. This has not been confirmed, though. The change would stop cars obstructing pedestrians – particularly those in wheelchairs or pushing a pram. However, pavement parking would probably still be legal on some routes to ease the flow of traffic.