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Driving laws introduced in 2018 - how are you affected?


Are you aware of the new driving laws that have been introduced so far this year?  If not, this is what you need to know about them.


Car tax

On the 1 April 2018, big changes were introduced to car taxation and are aimed at addressing the UK air pollution crisis by dissuading motorists from driving ‘dirty’ diesels.

The new tax is an increase of the first-year Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), which is going up by one band.

This means a typical small petrol car has seen a one-off increase of around £20, while other bigger cars have and will see a tax hike of up to £500.

Any cars that do not meet the Euro 6 engine requirements under the new Real World Driving emissions standard now have to pay this increase. 

There are no new diesel cars on sale that currently meet this standard, so all new vehicles will have to pay the increased tax.  Fortunately, the inflated charges are not applicable to existing cars on the road, only newly registered cars.


As of May 2018, the new MOT rules state that faults now fall under three categories; Minor, Major or Dangerous.

Any vehicles that receive either Dangerous or Major faults will immediately fail, while vehicles with Minor faults can still pass, but the fault will be recorded on the MOT certificate.

The MOT also now records how worn the brakes are, if they are contaminated by oil, and how securely they are attached to the wheel hubs. 

It is also harder for diesel cars to pass the newer, lower emission test limits. For example, if the exhaust is fitted with a diesel particulate filter and emits visible smoke of any colour, this is now recorded as a Major fault.

Finally, any car that is 40 years old or more will no longer need an MOT certificate.

Smart motorways

Since March 2018, Highways England are issuing fines for drivers using the hard shoulder when it is closed, or any other lane which is closed.

Lanes that are closed will be marked on smart highway digital signs by a red “X”. 

Lanes, including the hard shoulder can be opened on smart motorways to improve traffic flow and then closed when there are roadworks or if accidents have occurred.

This is enforced by cameras, which detect any transgression of the rules and immediately issue £100 fines and three penalty points.

Learner drivers

As of 4 June 2018, learner drives are allowed on UK motorways.

There are, however, certain specific restrictions.

They must be accompanied by an approved driving instructor in a dual controlled car; In effect, they are able to have motorway driving lessons if they want to and if the instructor decides that the learner is confident enough.

This is a big change to the driving test, and will prepare young and inexperienced drivers well for the world of motoring.

Graduated driving licence

The Prime Minister, Teresa May, has called for the Graduated Driving Licence to be introduced in response to figures which show that nearly 25% of car crashes leading to death or serious injuries are caused by young drivers aged between 17 and 24.

The "Graduated Driving Licence", which would last two years after drivers have passed their practical test, will address this by stopping younger drivers from driving after dark and from carrying passengers under 25 years of age unless supervised.  It could even include a second driving test following this probationary period.

Similar restrictions have been a success in Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.

In an effort to prevent accidents, other proposals include limiting the engine size and output of vehicles that young and new drivers will be allowed to drive.

At present though, the only difference in treatment of new drivers is that if they clock up 6 points in their first 2 years, an instant ban can be expected.