Driving laws change all the time. But 2021 sees an unusually high number of changes due to events such as the UK’s exit from the EU, the Coronavirus pandemic, the development of autonomous vehicles, and the introduction of clean air zones.
It is vital for individuals and commercial drivers, and businesses to stay abreast of the changes. Failure to abide by new driving laws can add penalty points to your licence and result in a costly fine.
Here we look at the latest driving regulations for 2021, to help keep you on the right side of the law.
Mobile Phone Driving Laws 2021
Since 2013, you have not been allowed to use your mobile phone while driving. However, a loophole in the law allowed you to take videos or photos. To close this loophole, you can longer hold your mobile phone for any reason while driving. This covering eventualities such as scrolling through social media posts or your playlist.
Breaking the new mobile phone driving laws will see you receive six penalty points on your licence and a £200 fine.
Driving In The EU Post-Brexit
The UK has left the European Union, and to legally drive in the EU, you must carry your driving licence, a green card, and affix a GB sticker to the rear of your vehicle (if your licence plate does not have a GB identifier).
If you intend to be abroad for fewer than twelve months, you will also need your V5C logbook. Just as before Brexit, certain EU countries require you to carry specific equipment. This may include headlight converter stickers, emission stickers, reflective clothing, warning triangle, and fire extinguisher.
Clean Air Zones
Changes are being made to existing clean air zones and new zones are being introduced in 2021. Hybrid vehicles cease to be exempt from London’s congestion charge. The Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) and Low Emission Zone (LEZ) boundaries have been expanded up to the North and South Circular ring roads.
New clean air zones come into effect in Bath (March 2021), Oxford (August 1st), Birmingham (June 1st), and Bristol (2022). These will add costs for non-compliant vehicles entering these zones. For Birmingham, for example, is £8 per day for cars, and £50 per day for lorries and coaches, with a £120 fine if you fail to pay the charge.
MOT Extension Period End
Due to the 2020 pandemic, it was difficult or impossible to arrange an MOT. The government introduced a six-month MOT Extension Period for vehicles with an MOT due between March 31st and July 31st. If this applied to your car, then a new MOT was required by the end of January 2021.
Driving Licence Extension Period End
Similarly, driving laws permitted you to use a licence that expired between February and November 2020 for another 11 months. Failure to renew your licence outside this exception can result in three to six penalty points and a £1,000 fine.
Green Number Plates
Since December 2020, driving laws have permitted green number plates for zero-emission vehicles. These have a green stripe on the left side. This increases the visibility of vehicles taking advantage of green parking initiatives and zero-emission zones.
Automated Lane Keeping Systems
Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) are set to be the first element of automated vehicles permitted for use on English, Scottish, and Welsh roads. Amendments to driving laws and The Highway Code will be put before Parliament by the end of 2021, allowing manufacturers to obtain GB whole vehicle type approval.
It is now illegal to drive in a motorway lane that has a red X sign overhead. Driving on one of these closed lanes could result in three penalty points and a £100 fine.
Driving Lessons And Tests Resume
With the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, you can now learn to drive and take your test. Lessons and tests permitted include car, car and trailer, and large goods vehicle (LGV) training and tests, as well as theory tests.