Driving laws and rules you need to know for 2024

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In March 2024,  the government announced its progress on the plan for drivers. In the latest update, it’s focussing on anti-driver road schemes and stopping blanket 20 mph limits. Overall, the plan for drivers aims to:

  • Make journeys smoother for drivers
  • Stop unfair enforcement
  • Make parking easier
  • Stop inconsiderate driving
  • Help the transition to zero emission driving

In this guide, we’ll talk about the latest developments in the plan for drivers. We’ll also look at other changes that might be coming in for the second half of the year. 

Cars on a road

In 2024, 20 mph zones might start appearing in more areas in England. They’re currently used in some parts of London.

The Welsh government has already put 20 mph zones across all residential areas. It’s also started enforcing the 20 mph zones. Drivers who are over the speed limit can watch a roadside engagement presentation that last about 10 minutes. It gives information on:

  • The change in default speed limit
  • The reason why the government has changed the speed limit
  • How you can identify a 20 mph zone road

If you refuse to watch the engagement presentation, you get a fine and points on your licence. You might not be offered the presentation if you’re going over the speed limit by a certain amount.

This is part of Operation Ugain which aims to inform the public about the 20 mph zones and help them adjust to the change.

Scotland committed to implementing 20 mph zones on all relevant roads by 2025

Northern Ireland hasn't committed to introducing any 20 mph zones yet.

But in England, the government has decided against ‘blanket use’ of 20 mph zones, which means most councils could go for a more targeted approach.

In March 2023, the government pledged to ‘strengthen guidance’ for councils on 20 mph, and emphasised they should only be put in appropriate areas. For example, outside schools. 

Some places in England have started to introduce more 20 mph roads though. Wirral council has approved the 20 mph limit on a further 1,000 roads. The council has already approved the limit on 1,700 areas.

Councillor Steve Foulkes said the 20 mph zone is "about coexistence of all our road users".

Oxfordshire county council are also introducing the 20 mph zones into 18 towns and villages. Eventually, the council wants to bring 20 mph zones to 234 of 310 parishes in Oxfordshire.

The 20 mph zones improve safety for pedestrians and other road users in residential areas. The speed limit decrease might also encourage more active travel, as it reduces the risk of collision for cyclists and pedestrians. Councillor Andrew Gant who approved the 18 applications said:

“This is another landmark moment for our 20mph policy. We believe these changes will make these towns and villages safer, quieter and less polluted places and will encourage more people to cycle and walk - reducing the county's carbon footprint.”

What our motor insurance expert says:

“It’s good to see that parts of England are prioritising the safety of pedestrians and cyclists by bringing in 20 mph speed limits. According to the Welsh Government, the 20 mph zones could reduce collisions by 40% annually. This might have a positive impact on car insurance premiums, as fewer collisions mean fewer claims. This might help your individual premiums, but could also lower the cost of insurance overall.”

In the plan for drivers, the government says it’s allocated £5 billion to maintain road surfaces between 2020 and 2023. It’s going to continue this funding into 2024.

The government also announced an £8.3 billion for road surfacing in the Autumn budget.

Local councils should be able to use this to repair bridges and resurface roads.

There’s also a specific allocation for potholes. The government is giving local councils £100 million over 10 years to spend on fixing potholes as well as general road repairs.

This is going to be welcome news for motorists, as pothole reports are up by 24% since 2020. And 1 in 5 motorists have damaged their car because of potholes. 

The Local Government Association (LGA) commented on the condition of roads in the UK:

“Councils share the frustration of all road users about the conditions of our local roads. The LGA has long-called for longer term funding to tackle the issues facing our roads. We believe that the government should award local authority Highways Departments with 5 yearly funding allocations to give more certainty. This could bring councils on a par with National Highways.”

There have also been reports of utility companies leaving roads in a poor state after they’ve finished working. The government already does inspections to make sure the road surfaces are left in a good standard. But in March, it launched new guidance to make it easier for councils to charge utility companies who slow down drivers with street works.

What our motor insurance expert says:

“Heavy rain means potholes could be on the rise, so it’s good to see more funding going into repairing road surfaces. If you do hit a pothole and it damages your car, you can claim for it through your local council’s website. This could be a better option than claiming on your insurance as it could potentially increase your insurance costs in future. Read our guide for more information on how to claim for pothole damage.”

The government is encouraging local authorities to install noise cameras to catch drivers who illegally modify their exhausts. There has already been successful trials in:

  • Bradford
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Great Yarmouth

Police and local authorities can seize noisy vehicles, but it can be difficult to get enough evidence to prosecute. So at the moment, it’s not discouraging people from illegally modifying their cars.

Noise cameras can help with this. They’re triggered by vehicles with a noise level above 95 dB. It’s set at this level for day and night, and for all types of road.

Noise cameras have been in development since 2019, starting with just a microphone on a camera and a number plate reader. Now, after trials and tests the noise cameras are ready to use across local authorities.

What our motor insurance expert says:

“Noise pollution can affect physical health, mental health, and wellbeing so having more ways to prosecute drivers should be a relief for motorists.

“If you have motorists near you that are causing noise pollution you could first ask them to keep the noise down. But you should only do this if you feel safe to. If not, you can report the noise to your local council or your police force's non-emergency number. That’s unless you think the vehicles are driving dangerously, or if someone’s in danger, in this case, call 999.

“If your car has an illegal modification you could invalidate your insurance policy. This means your insurer might refuse to pay out if you need to make a claim. Some car modifications are legal, but you need to make sure you declare them when you’re buying car insurance.”

In its plan for drivers, the government said it’s going to stop unfair enforcement by local councils.

In March 2023, the government announced that it's seeking views from motorists on this issue so it can create guidance for local councils. It’s also asking local authorities about how they reinvest the money they get from fines.

Some of the Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) the government are questioning are for moving traffic restrictions, including:

  • Driving into a ‘no entry’ area
  • Driving into a ‘no left or right turn’ area
  • Driving somewhere where vehicles are prohibited
  • Unlawful entry into box junctions
  • Driving in mandatory cycle lanes

According to the plan for drivers, some think local councils are using fines as a source of revenue rather than using them to make roads safer.

In London alone, more than 7 million PCNs were issued in 2022. That’s an increase of 41.3% since 2021. Most of these PCNs were related to low traffic areas and school streets. Some drivers appealed these fines and just under half (43%) were overturned.

The plan says:

“Where there are rules, there must be enforcement. But we need to balance an enforcement regime that cracks down on dangerous driving practices while also, at its heart, trusting responsible drivers. We must discourage dangerous and irresponsible driving while not treating well-intentioned drivers as a way for local authorities to raise revenue.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) comments on this:

“Councils want to work with the Government to make our roads safe and attractive for everyone who uses them. However, it’s councils who know their communities best. They should be trusted to make local transport decisions with their local residents.

“Removing the ability of all councils to enforce moving traffic violations would be a backwards step that will risk creating a 2 tier transport system between London and the rest of the country.”

What our motor insurance expert says:

“The cost of living crisis is making driving more expensive, so an unfair fine could cause a lot of anxiety for a motorist. It’s good to see that there could be more regulation from the government when it comes to fines, and that it aims to trust responsible motorists. But it shouldn’t be at the expense of the safety of other road users.”

 In March 2024, the government launched new funding to improve traffic lights in England. The new improvements could shorten journey times and potentially reduce congestion.

There’s up to £50 million available for councils. £30 million is paying to replace outdated traffic lights. The government is using the remaining £20 million to upgrade traffic light technology that responds to live traffic conditions.

According to the government, 80 highway authorities across England are going to benefit from the funding.

What our motor insurance expert says:

“There’s more traffic on the road now and congestion levels are a source of frustration. So motorists are going to welcome anything that can reduce the time it takes to do their daily commute.

“Improved road safety measures could help bring down the number of collisions. The new traffic lights could also improve safety potentially leading to less accidents in these areas. Over time, this could help bring the cost of insurance down overall.”

In 2023, the government delayed the ban to sell new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035. The prime minister, Rishi Sunak said it’s "not right to impose more costs on working people".

But the government has to do something to improve the introduction of EVs. It’s predicting that 22% of new cars sold in 2024 could be zero emission vehicles.

Some of the main drawbacks of owning an EV car is the lack of charging points and their expense.

In the plan for the drivers, the government pledges to speed up installing charge points and providing grants to schools so they can install them.

It’s also introducing schemes to lower the initial and ongoing costs to own an EV, such as:

What our motor insurance expert says:

“More people are buying EVs, so it’s encouraging to see that the government is aiming to improve EV infrastructure. Charging EVs is one of the main drawbacks of EV ownership, so grants for people in flats could encourage more people to go electric. 

“There’s still some way to go for insurers as only a few offer insurance for electric cars. Some of the insurers we compare offer insurance for electric vehicles, you can find out more on our electric car insurance page.”

It’s now illegal to park on the pavement in Scotland. The new rule came in on 11 December 2023.

It’s also illegal to park on dropped kerbs and double park, which means parking next to another parked car. If you’re caught doing any of these in Scotland, you could get a £100 fine.

Scotland is the first country in the UK to introduce a blanket ban on pavement parking. But The Living Streets Foundation, who have been campaigning for the ban, want the Scottish government to ‘implement the ban properly’. This is because a blanket ban might cause motorists some difficulty. Stuart Hay, Director, Living Streets Scotland says:

“Parking on the footway is inconvenient for us all and incredibly dangerous for older and disabled people, who are forced into the road and oncoming traffic. Scotland is leading the way by becoming the first UK nation to say enough is enough and introduce an explicit ban, now we need to make sure we get it right.

“Mass exemptions seriously undermine the ban and put people at risk if they aren’t introduced following rigorous assessments and consultation. Ongoing promotion of the ban and engagement with communities is also vital to ensure the implementation is effective.

“Without sufficient enforcement capacity many groups including disabled people will feel badly let down. We want to see targeted and proactive action in known hotspots where pavements need to be cleared of obstructing cars.”

What our motor insurance expert says:

“It’s great that Scotland has introduced a ban on pavement parking. It means people who have a disability or mobility issues, and people with children don’t have to go into the road to get past cars. The ban might also encourage more people to walk if the pavement is clear. It’s already illegal to park on the pavement in London, but it’s unclear whether other countries are going to follow Scotland’s lead.

“At the moment, you won’t get points on your licence if you park on the pavement in Scotland, but a £100 fine isn’t what you want given the cost of driving is increasing.

“If you’re found parking dangerously and this parking causes an accident, you could get points on your licence which could increase your car insurance costs. In fact, If you get convicted for leaving your car in a dangerous position (MS10 conviction code) your average annual insurance price could be £1,624*."

*Confused.com car insurance data from March 2023 - March 2024

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