DRIVING LAW CHANGES – ARE YOU UP TO SPEED?
July 10 2015.


The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is warning people to be ready for a host of changes coming up in driving laws in the UK – and fear many are totally unaware of what’s in store in 2015. You may now know about the abolition of the driving licence paper counterpart, but did you know that from 1st October 2015, it will be illegal to smoke in a car carrying passengers under the age of 18? No? Read on …


New regulations that have changed driving licences, drug-drive limits and speed limits have already taken place in 2015. There are, however, other changes expected to take place later in the year. For motorists oblivious to these changes, the IAM is raising awareness to ensure all road users understand the new driving laws and changes.

In March a new law on driving under the influence of legal or illegal drugs including cannabis, cocaine and prescription drugs including diazepam, methadone and morphine came into force across England and Wales. Earlier this month, the IAM revealed the true scale of drug-driving since the new regulations started and found 902 arrests have already been made by police forces (Note 1). Motorists convicted of drug-driving will get a minimum one year driving ban, unlimited fine, up to six months imprisonment and a criminal record (Note 2).

In April, the speed limit for the largest heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) travelling on a single carriageway across England and Wales increased from 40mph to 50mph, and on a dual carriageway it has increased from 50mph to 60mph (Note 3).

Changes to driving laws and other-related procedural changes have also come into force this year to take advantage of the internet, increase convenience and save time on administration. From the government’s launch of the ‘Make a Plea’ service in March, which enables motorists charged with minor motoring offences including speeding, failing to identify the driver or using a vehicle without insurance to respond to the charges made against them digitally (Note 4), to the scrapping of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) paper counterpart of the photo card on the 8th of June, in which all driver information such as endorsements and which category of vehicles you are entitled to drive is stored electronically – the changes have allowed motorists to access information remotely. Important changes have also come into force with how motorists provide proof of their driving records to a third party – it is now necessary to obtain a special code from the Gov.UK website to allow the sharing of data (Note 5).

A new scheme in London will be introduced on the 1st of September 2015, that will ensure all lorries and construction vehicles over 3.5 tonnes are fitted with basic safety equipment. The Safer Lorry Scheme, which will be enforced by the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police and the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency, will aim to tackle the number of fatal collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians. The scheme will run 24 hours a day across the city and any drivers found in charge of a non-compliant vehicle may be issued with a £50 penalty notice and a potential £1000 fine at the Magistrates Court (Note 6).

Upcoming changes to driving laws will also see smoking in cars carrying children under the age of 18 becoming illegal from 1st October 2015 (Note 7). Potential fines and penalties are expected to be announced closer to the time.

Sarah Sillars, IAM’s chief executive officer said; “This year has seen some of the biggest changes in motoring procedures we have ever seen. It is very important drivers and riders are fully up-to-date on what is happening – they will affect everyone in one way or another. So don’t get caught out, get informed.”

Notes;
1. Recent IAM press release, FOI into drug-driving
2. Drug-driving, the law.  
3. HGVs speed limits on single and dual carriageways.
4. Digital ‘Make a Plea’ system.
5. Driving licence changes.  
6. Transport for London, Safer Lorry Scheme.  
7. Smoking in cars set to become illegal.