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Drivers warned about ten new laws and rule changes you need to know about


MOTORISTS may have missed key rule and law changes which came into place this year.

From smart motorways to number plate rules, we’ve looked at new laws facing drivers in 2021 and more changes set to come in next year.

From new smart motorways to number plate rules and the Highway Code, there's plenty to consider

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From new smart motorways to number plate rules and the Highway Code, there’s plenty to consider

Erring on the wrong side of the new Highway Code introduced in September could see you slapped with a hefty fine, points on your licence and even a driving ban.

Here are the recently tweaked road rules which need extra attention this winter.

Newly changed rules and regs

Number plate markings

One easily made adjustment drivers must now keep in mind involves your number plate.

Since September 28, the EU logo is no longer valid – your licence plate must now read “UK”.

And if you’re driving abroad, you must replace any GB markings on the back with one which reads “UK”.

We’ve previously warned you not to left it get too dirty, because an obscured licence plate could be prosecuted by police as an intentional ‘concealment’.

That could see you fined up to £1,000.

New road “pyramid”

The Highway Code 2021 has a new “road user hierarchy”, which lists road users by order the danger they can cause on the road – and therefore how careful they must be.

For example, lorries are at the top – meaning drivers must be more considerate of their surroundings than ordinary passenger vehicles.

Unsurprisingly, pedestrians are at the bottom.

But the placement of cyclists affects all drivers.

Cyclists travelling straight ahead will be given priority at road junctions over drivers who are turning in or out or changing lanes.

Riders will also be told to give way to pedestrians on shared-use cycle tracks.

Let pedestrians walk out in front of you in traffic

When you’re stuck in traffic or you’re moving slowly, the new Highway Code also states that you should allow pedestrians to cross in front of you.

Anyone walking across the road should be allowed to do so by drivers.

This rule also applies to cyclists looking to cross the road, too.

No more flashing lights – unless you need to

If honking your horn is the ultimate act of road aggression, flashing your lights has long been a polite “please” or “thank you”.

Not anymore.

Using your lights to encourage people to cross the road is not allowed.

The new code states: “Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there.

“Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.”

It joins revving your engine and aggressively honking your horn as an outlawed practice – although one we’ll probably still see on our roads for a while.

Don’t get your wires crossed

Electric cars’ charging cables are mentioned for the first time in the new Highway Code.

According to Rule 239, “every care should be taken when charging vehicles to minimise any danger.”

What that means is, don’t leave them dangling in the street where they could injure pedestrians.

But it’s not just new rules introduced this autumn that Brit drivers have to be mindful of.

These are the planned changes set to come in next January – and how you can stay on the right side of the law while on the road.

Rules to look out for in 2022

Tow the line

Drivers who passed their test after 1997 were to be allowed to tow trailers without passing another exam from November 15 this year.

That didn’t happen – and the DVSA now says the new rule will come into place “as soon as possible” and by the end of the year.

The DVSA hasn’t given any update on this, but we’ll let you know as soon as we hear.

Smart motorways

These controversial new highways are set to become more common in 2022, despite concerns over their lack of hard shoulders.

The M27 between Portsmouth and Southampton is set to join the club early next year.

Yet a partial solution to the recent furore means lanes marked with a red ‘X’ cannot be travelled in.

That means a vehicle is using the lane – usually open to traffic – for an urgent stoppage.

If caught in one of these forbidden lanes by one of many cameras, you’ll face a £100 charge and three points on your licence.

Stop scrolling

Motorists caught scrolling on their mobile behind the wheel will face £200 fines and six points on their licence from next year.

AA president Edmund King said last month: “By making mobile phone use as socially unacceptable as drink driving, we are taking big steps to make our roads safer.” 

But the harshening of the current rules won’t apply to drivers paying for their McDonald’s drive-thru, we’ve been assured.

Pavement parking ban

Parking on any pavements is already illegal in London – and is set to be outlawed across the rest of the UK, too.

Pedestrians have expressed their frustration at vehicles which have mounted busy footpaths – and stayed there.

Rule-breakers could face £70 fines nationwide once the widely rumoured change is confirmed in the new year.

New chip to stop you speeding will be mandatory

So-called Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) gadgets will be compulsory in all new cars sold in the UK from January 1.

You don’t have to do anything to your current vehicle, though.

ISA chips use traffic-sign recognition cameras and GPS data to determine the speed limit on a road.

They then automatically limit the engine power and a vehicle’s speed if the driver doesn’t slow down themselves.

ISAs will be automatically switched on in new cars – but you can legally turn yours off, too.

We’ve advised Brit motorists how to drive their manual and automatic vehicles during the winter.

The AA has warned against one reckless and costly “solution” to a frosty windscreen.

Here’s how to use an ice scraper properly.

And you can find all our top winter driving tips here.

Woman fails driving test after ‘inconsiderate’ workmen block view of Stoneferry traffic lights

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