It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a handheld device while driving.
This year, laws will go further to ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists, or play games.
This will mean anyone caught using their handheld device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and 6 points on their licence.
Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a satnav, if it’s secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle.
The changes include a ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ which is a concept that places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy. The hierarchy does not remove the need for all road users to behave responsibly. The road users most likely to be injured in the event of a collision are pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists, with children, older adults and disabled people being more at risk; the new Rule H1 ensures that those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to other road users.
The new Rule H2 creates clearer and stronger priorities for pedestrians, particularly at junctions, and clarifies where pedestrians have right of way.
The new Rule H3 places a requirement on drivers to give priority to cyclists when they are turning into or out of a junction, or changing direction or lane, just as they would for other motor vehicles.
In early 2022 the Road Traffic Act 1998 (Alcohol Limits) (Amendment) Bill has its second reading in the House of Lords – it’s not clear when and if the Bill may become law, but the proposed new legislation would reduce the alcohol breath limit from the current 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, to just 14.
VED (‘road tax’) is likely to go up in April in line with inflation. Whilst the new rates have not been confirmed, it is likely that the worst affected will be vehicles that emit more than 255g of CO2 per kilometre as the government continues to move towards greener and cleaner vehicles.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) often requires questionnaires to be completed by a driver’s GP or medical consultants where there may be issues around fitness to drive. The government is considering the use of “other medical professionals” to ease the workload on doctors to complete medical questionnaires. One current proposition is to permit nurses to assist with medical licensing assessments.
From 1 April 2022 the use of red diesel becomes further restricted. The government continues to push towards the use of cleaner fuels alternatives, reduce the harmful impact of diesel emissions and incentivise users to improve the energy efficiency of their vehicles and machines. It also encourages users to invest in cleaner alternatives or just use less fuel.
If you’re no longer able to use rebated fuel, you will need to use diesel or biofuels that have had full excise duty paid (including white diesel).
For more information, please contact Rebecca Stanton, Associate.
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