New laws and rules which all UK drivers should know for 2022

Written by Zego

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We explore 12 key driving law updates coming into effect in 2022

As the world of transport continues to change, so too must road rules and law and from 29th January 2022, the rules for all types of road users will be updated in The Highway Code to improve the people's road safety.

So, whether it be improved safety measures or the progression towards making the transport industry more environmentally friendly, this blog post will provide the key updates scheduled to be implemented this year.

1. Highway Code update: pedestrians and cyclists have priority

The government has changed the highway code in order to make cyclists and pedestrians feel more safe. The main changes include:

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

The Highway Code change is part of a £338 million package to improve the infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians. The change is scheduled to be implemented on the 29th of January, pending final parliamentary approval to introduce a risk-based hierarchy of road users. Someone driving will have more responsibility to watch out for people cycling, walking or riding a horse, and cyclists will have more responsibility to be aware of pedestrians.

2. Stricter rules on mobile phone use in vehicles

The government is tightening up the rules on mobile phone use when behind the wheel. The new rule, which could start early this year, will penalise drivers for just touching their phones behind the wheel. Drivers could receive a fine of £200 and six points on their licence if they're caught. Prior to this change, motorists could only be penalised for communicating on their phone behind the wheel. For example, calling or sending a text. There are however, some exceptions. Drivers should still be permitted to use their phone for navigation as long as it's secured in a mobile phone holder. If any changes need to be made to the route, this will have to be done while the vehicle is stationary. You should also be able to use your phone to make contactless payments at drive throughs and toll roads.

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

4. 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. In London and some other parts of the UK this has already been deemed illegal and Scotland’s ban on pavement parking is expected to come into effect from 2023. While the government is still yet to finalise their decision, reports say that the decision in England and Wales could be made sometime this year.

5. Speed limiters

In 2022, speed limiters will be mandatory in all new cars. The Intelligent Speed Assistant system (ISA) is commonly referred to as the speed limiter and alerts drivers if they’re going too fast. While the vehicle will intervene if the driver does not reduce their speed, this can be overridden in some circumstances such as overtaking.

6. Self-driving cars allowed on UK roads

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. The government says that the first cars with ALK technology could be on our roads by early 2022.

7. New clean air zones: Manchester, Bradford and more in 2022

Manchester will launch its clean air zone (CAZ) on the 30th of May this year. This is an area usually within a city, which charges high-emission vehicles to enter them.

Some of these zones target buses or taxis, while others also charge private vehicles if they emit over a certain amount of emissions. Manchester’s CAZ will apply to:

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

These vehicles may 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 are unlikely to be affected. Work on new clean air or low emission zones can now continue after the delay due to the pandemic. Currently, Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth already have clean air or low emission zones. Both Bradford and Oxford are expected to have theirs ready by 2022.

8. Electric car grant cut

The 2050 net zero deadline looms closer each year, as does the 2030 petrol and diesel ban. There’s also more pressure on drivers to convert 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, however, in December 2021, it reduced the grant. Now, the grant has been cut from £2,500 to £1,000 and will only be available for vehicles costing up to £32,000. You could previously apply the grant to vehicles up to £35,000.

9. Nurses to be able to determine if you’re fit to drive - rather than just doctors

The government is considering allowing 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 the driving licence renewal process as well as decrease the workload on already stretched doctors.

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

Infrastructure around charging points has been a barrier for people considering the change to an electric vehicle. However, this year it will be a legal requirement for all new builds in England to have EV charging points installed. The new charging points should be installed in new-build homes, new supermarkets and any other building that’s having major renovations. If all goes ahead effectively, the government claims that the scheme could produce up to 145,000 extra charging points each year.

11. Rule changes on what you can tow

The rules on what you can tow changed just before the new year began. Now, if you passed your test on or after January 1997, you won’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.

12. Ban on red diesel and rebated biofuel

To help the UK reach its climate target, on the 1st of April 2022, the government will restrict the use of red diesel and biofuel in some vehicles. The red diesel ban will mainly affect 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 which will ultimately benefit the UK’s progression towards environmentally friendly transport options.