UK road users have been warned to take heed of a number of changes to the Highway Code and the MOT test, as they set off into 2019. And here, our road traffic offences expert, Ghaz Iqbal, talks us through what is new and what the Government is also considering introducing in 2019.

Using the roads is expensive enough already, but it pays to be fully aware of the current Highway Code to avoid unnecessary fines. Many drivers admit to not having looked at the Highway Code since the day they passed their test, and you would be amazed how much your road knowledge really needs to improve.

Changes to the Highway Code in 2019

The two big changes to the Highway Code this year are:

  • Overtaking cyclists: You face a £100 fine if you don’t leave enough space when overtaking a cyclist. This would be around 4ft 11in (1.5 metres) and approximately the width of a car door.
  • Learners on motorways: Learner drivers are now able to practice their driving on a motorway, if accompanied by an instructor. Previously, this was only possible after the driver had obtained their full licence.

The Government is also considering a proposal to fine drivers who use a closed lane on a smart motorway. The increase in smart motorways in recent years has prompted some consideration over accompanying laws, and therefore, using a lane marked with an ‘X’ could result in a £100 fine and also points added to the driver’s licence.

MOT changes in 2019

These changes were actually introduced in 2018, but drivers certainly need to be aware of them as they begin the new year. The changes relate to the categorisation of defects found and issued to vehicles going through the MOT test, which are now classed as:

  • Dangerous – Direct or immediate risk to road safety or the environment. This leads to a Fail.
  • Major – Could affect the vehicle’s safety, put other road users at risk or affect the environment. Again, this would be a Fail.
  • Minor – No significant effect on safety, but should be repaired as soon as possible.
  • Advisory – Could become more serious in the future.
  • Pass – Meets the current minimum legal standards

There are also new elements to the MOT test, including checks for:

  • Underinflated tyres
  • Contaminated brake fluid
  • Reverse lights
  • Brake pad warning lights
  • Missing brake discs
  • Day time running lights

Other road law changes in 2019

Diesel drivers have been hit by an increase in road tax rate, which will no longer be a flat rate, but will be calculated from a vehicle’s carbon dioxide emissions. There is also a proposal to introduce a ‘Graduated Licence’ for newly-passed drivers. This will put certain restrictions on new drivers, such as the times of day they can drive, how many passengers they can carry, a lower alcohol limit, lower speed limits, power output limits on vehicles and mandatory ‘P’ plates for two years.

As ever, Ison Harrison are available to assist and advise on road laws and how they affect you, and we can represent you with regards to road traffic offences. Call us on 0113 284 5000 today to speak to Ghaz Iqbal, our road traffic expert.