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New driving laws and rules for 2022

From smart motorways to watching TV in self-driving cars, here are some driving laws you might have missed in 2022.

Police car lights 

New 20 mph speed cameras rolled out across the UK

A new 20 mph speed limit is being rolled out in busy pedestrian streets or residential areas throughout the UK. 

Speed cameras will monitor these zones to make sure drivers are sticking to the speed limit. These cameras caught 1,100 motorists breaking the speed limit within the first 24 hours of their launch. 

In Wales, these areas have been rolled out in Abergavenny, Severnside and Central North Cardiff to name a few. In England they’ve been rolled out in places such as Birmingham and Oxford.

Areas in Edinburgh and Glasgow have also introduced the new 20 mph speed limit. 


Private Parking Code of Practice scrapped

Earlier this year, the government proposed a code of conduct which meant that private parking firms would have to:

  • Allow motorists to have a 10 minute grace period to return back to their car before issuing a fine.
  • Give motorists 5 minutes to change their mind about where they’re parked before charging them.
  • Clearly display their pricing and the car park’s terms and conditions.
  • Stop excessive debt collection fees for late tickets. These could reach up to £70, reports have said.

The code of practice also set out a cap on private parking fees at £50 instead of £100. With the code of practice in place, you’d only get a fine of £100 for parking in a disabled parking space without a blue badge

This code of practice has now been withdrawn. A decision should be made on this after a review of the private parking fine charges and additional fees.


Highway Code update: pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists have priority 

To capitalise on the active travel boom, the government has changed the Highway Code so that cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians feel safer on the road.

Some of the changes include:

  • A hierarchy of road users that prioritises at-risk road users like cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians.
  • Improving pedestrian priority on pavements when crossing or waiting to cross the road.
  • Guidance on passing cyclists and horse riders safely. This includes safe passing distances and speed. Cyclists also have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.

The government explains that, ‘road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others’.

The Highway Code change is part of a £338 million package to improve the infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.


Stricter rules on mobile phone use in vehicles 

The government tightened up the rules on mobile phone use behind the wheel this year. 

In 2021, motorists could only be penalised for communicating on their phone behind the wheel. For example, calling or sending a text.

The new rule penalises drivers for touching their phones behind the wheel. 

Using your phone for gaming, taking selfies and scrolling through playlists is now illegal. Drivers could get a fine of £200 and six points on their licence if they're caught. 

But there are some exceptions.

Drivers should still be able to use their phone as a sat nav as long as it's secured in a car phone holder. You have to pull over and stop when it’s safe if you want to adjust your route though.

You should also be able to use your phone to make contactless payments at drive-throughs and toll roads.


Local councils could enforce minor traffic offences instead of police

Motorists could be fined up to £70 by local councils for minor motoring offences. For example, stopping in yellow cross hatching and driving in cycle lanes. Before the rule change, the police were responsible for issuing these fines.

This is the first time that councils outside of London and Cardiff have been allowed to issue penalty charges for these types of offences.

Councils will be able to apply for this in England and Wales.


All motorists banned from parking on pavements

Councils in England and Wales could have the power to issue fines for motorists that park on the pavement.

The new rules could mean that councils UK wide could issue £70 fines for pavement parkers.

It’s already illegal to park on the pavement in London and some other parts of the UK. Scotland’s ban on pavement parking should come into effect from 2023.

The governments in both England and Wales are still consulting on the pavement parking ban, but reports say that a decision could be made sometime this year.


Speed limiters now mandatory in new cars

Speed limiters are now mandatory in all new cars. 

The speed limiter – known as an Intelligent Speed Assistant system (ISA) – alerts drivers if they’re going too fast. If the driver doesn’t slow their speed the car will intervene. 

Drivers can override the speed limiter circumstances, for example if you’re overtaking. For more information, take a look at our guide on mandatory speed limiters for 2022.


A 5 year delay on new smart motorways

The government will pause smart motorways for 5 years for a full safety review.

The 5 year pause gives the government and the Department for Transport time to collect in depth data on the safety of smart motorways.

But some smart motorways have already been built. The Department for Transport is investing £900 million into improving the safety on these, with £390 million going towards 150 additional emergency areas. The additional areas should give motorists more places to stop if they run into difficulty.


Driving licences to be taken off drug users

In December 2021, the prime minister announced that passports and driving licences could be removed from illegal drug users. 

Former prime minister Boris Johnson said:

“We need to look at new ways of penalising them. Things that will actually interfere with their lives.

So we will look at taking away their passports and driving licences. We’re keeping nothing off the table.”

The government could also introduce harsher sentences for offenders. This is part of a wider 10-year plan to tackle illegal drug-related crime.


Self-driving cars allowed on road this year

Automatic Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) keep cars in lane automatically at low speeds. And for the first time, drivers will be able to delegate control of the vehicle. 

In 2021, the government announced that ALK systems are an example of ‘self-driving’ vehicle technology.

The Association of British Insurers has debated this, saying it could potentially be misleading for drivers.

By declaring the system as self-driving, drivers might feel they can switch off behind the wheel. In reality, they still need to be able to regain control of the vehicle at any time.


Watching TV allowed in self-driving cars

The Highway Code changed again this year. Drivers can now watch TV in their self-driving cars, but mobile phone use is still banned.

Drivers should still be able to take control of the car at any point though.

The Highway Code says: 

“If the vehicle is designed to require you to resume driving after being prompted to, while the vehicle is driving itself, you MUST remain in a position to be able to take control.

"For example, you should not move out of the driving seat. You should not be so distracted that you cannot take back control when prompted by the vehicle.”


Manchester clean air zone paused 

Manchester has paused its clean air zone. New plans were submitted on 1 July, but there’s no firm date for when it’ll launch. 

A clean air zone or low emission zone is an area - usually within a city - that charges high-emission vehicles to enter them. 

Some of these zones target buses or taxes, while others also charge private vehicles if they emit over a certain amount of emissions. When Manchester’s CAZ is ready, it should apply to:

  • HGVs
  • Buses
  • Coaches
  • Vans
  • Minibuses
  • Hackney cabs and private hire vehicles
  • Motorhomes and camper vans

These vehicles might need to pay up to £60 per day to enter the CAZ. For motorhomes and camper vans, it depends on the individual vehicle’s emissions.

Private cars, mopeds and motorbikes shouldn’t be affected.

Work on new clean air or low emission zones can now continue after the delay due to the pandemic. The following cities should have introduced or are introducing LEZs this year:

Some cities that already have clean air or low emission zones are:

  • Bath 
  • Birmingham 
  • Portsmouth

Electric car grant cut

The 2050 net zero deadline looms closer each year, as does the 2030 petrol and diesel car ban.

There’s also more pressure on drivers to switch to electric cars, which isn’t easy given that the initial cost for an EV is £20,000 upwards.

The government’s electric car grant went some way towards making them affordable. But the grant was scrapped on 14 June. You could previously apply the grant to vehicles up to £35,000.


Healthcare professionals can now determine if you’re fit to drive - rather than just doctors

The government is allowing healthcare professionals - for example, nurse practitioners - to conduct medical questionnaires to determine if you’re fit to drive. Previously, only GPs were allowed to do this. 

This change could help to speed up driving licence renewal applications, and decrease the workload on already stretched doctors.;


New homes to have EV charging points fitted by law in 2022

Infrastructure around charging points has been a barrier for people considering switching to electric cars.

But from June this year, all new builds in England will have to install EV charging points. This will be a legal requirement.

The new charging points should be installed in new-build homes, new supermarkets and any other building that’s having major renovations. 

The government claims that the scheme could produce up to 145,000 extra charging points each year if all goes ahead as planned.


Rule changes on what you can tow

The rules on what you can tow changed in December last year.

Now, if you passed your test on or after January 1997, you don’t have to take an additional test to tow a trailer up to 3,500 kg maximum authorised mass. This is the maximum weight that the trailer can hold, including the weight of the trailer.

30,000 more HGV driver tests could happen each year after this rule change, which could help tackle the HGV driver shortage.


Ban on red diesel and rebated biofuel 

To help the UK reach its climate target, the government restricted the use of red diesel and biofuel in some vehicles in April this year. 

The red diesel ban mainly affects businesses rather than individuals. Usually, this type of fuel is used for agricultural machinery, for example in tractors or ploughs. 

The ban could mean that businesses resort to using cleaner fuel options to power their vehicles.