11 driving changes and laws are coming next year – and they start on January 1

Motorists are being warned about eleven driving changes and laws coming in next year which all start on January 1.

Car tax is set to rise in line with inflation next year -when a whole set of new laws and increases will take effect, according to The Mirror.

Drivers should also note that new Clean Air Zones will come into force in more towns and cities, while tougher guidelines will be introduced for those who use a mobile phone at the wheel.

Currently, motorists can only be penalised for using a handheld phone for 'interactive communication' while driving. This means anyone using their device to record video, take selfies, snap pictures and scroll through downloaded music can legally evade a fine or points on their licence.

However, from early next year, this practice will be banned.

Councils in England and Wales will be also given new powers to fine motorists up to £70 for minor traffic offences, including stopping in yellow box junctions, illegal turns and driving in cycle lanes.

1. Mobile phones loopholes banned

There will be tougher new laws coming into force in a further stop the use of mobile phones behind the wheel from next year.

It is already illegal to text or make a phone call, other than in an emergency, while driving.

However, from 2022, laws will go further to ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games.

Anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.

Drivers will still be able to use a ‘hands-free’ device while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held.

"By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users."

After the public consultation, the government will revise The Highway Code to explain the new measures. It is thought that the loophole will be closed in mid-January.

However, there will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.

There will, however, be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology.

2. Increase to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)

VED, which is often called road tax, is rising with the retail prices index measure of inflation next April. The government has not yet confirmed the new rates yet, however

Like before, the amount of tax you'll pay will likely depend on your new car's CO2 emissions. Those that emit zero grams per kilometre of CO2 are expected to continue paying zero, while petrol- and most diesel-powered drivers (including hybrids) that emit between 1g and 50g per kilometre will pay £10 for the first 12 months.

Cars that emit between 51g and 5g per kilometre currently pay £25 for the first year.

Meanwhile cars that emit between 76g and 150g per kilometre of CO2 saw their VED rates rise by £5 this year – to £220.

The more CO2 a car emits per kilometre, the more you are likely to pay next year.

Cars that emit more than 255g per kilometre of CO2 are usually the worst affected. These currently set you back £2,245 a year in tax – it then rises each April.

You can find out how much you're currently paying here.

The standard rate – the amount you pay after the second year – for cars registered on or after 1 April 2017 is currently £155 a year for anything other than zero-emissions vehicles.

3. Fuel duty freeze

It was confirmed in the 2021 Budget that there will be another freeze on fuel duty – the tax you pay per-litre of petrol and diesel.

Instead, fuel duty will remain at the same level, which is 57.95p per litre. It has been this cost for the past decade.

Petrol prices, however, are continuing to rise to record levels.

4. Nurses could carry out DVLA checks

The government is currently considering changing the rules on who can conduct medical questionnaires.

This is currently restricted to just doctors, however, a consultation that ended on December 6 raised the proposal of allowing other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, to complete the questionnaires to ease the growing workload on doctors and help accelerate licence renewals.

By law all drivers must meet the medical standards for fitness to drive and to help make these decisions, the DVLA often requires questionnaires to be completed by a driver's GP or consultant.

Julie Lennard, chief executive at DVLA, said: "Year on year we are seeing an increase in medical licensing applications for drivers and we are continuously looking for ways to improve the process for customers and the medical profession."

5. New Highway Code hierarchy is introduced

A new 'hierarchy of road users' system will join the Highway Code next year.

This is designed to help protect the most vulnerable people, including cyclists.

Ultimately, it means those in larger vehicles will have to take extra caution to ensure they're not putting cyclists and pedestrians at risk. In the event of an accident, the driver of the larger vehicle is most likely to be held responsible.

The new hierarchy is:

  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists
  • Horse riders
  • Motorcyclists
  • Cars/taxis
  • Vans/minibuses
  • Large passenger vehicles/heavy goods vehicles

6. New £70 fines from councils introduced

Motorists are set to be hit with widespread enforcement of £70 fines as councils are given more power against drivers.

The "moving traffic" offences local authorities will be able to punish drivers for include stopping in yellow box junctions and performing bad turns.

Currently, most councils are only able to send out penalties for parking and driving in bus lanes.

The police are typically responsible for issuing "moving traffic" offence fines, apart from in London and Cardiff.

But the new powers will mean almost 300 councils in England will be able to apply for the right to issue these penalties as well.

RAC spokesman, Simon Williams, said: “We’re fearful that some authorities may be over enthusiastic in using their new powers for revenue-raising reasons.

“Drivers who blatantly ignore signage or highway rules should expect penalties but there are instances which are not always clear-cut.

7. Possible country-wide ban on all pavement parking

Scotland has already passed a new bill that will outlaw all parking on pavements from 2023.

However, the tougher rules could be applied in England this coming year.

Parking on the pavement is already illegal in London but changes to the law are expected in 2022 that will give local councils across England and Wales the power to issue on-the-spot £70 fines to those who mount the kerb.

The government held a consultation on the matter in November 2020, with a proposed blanket ban to prevent motorists blocking pavements for parents with pushchairs, those with limited mobility and anyone reliant on a seeing-eye dog.

The DfT's consultation proposed three options to reform the rules on pavement parking:

Improving the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) process, under which local authorities can already prohibit pavement parking.

A legislative change to allow local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to enforce against 'unnecessary obstruction of the pavement'.

A legislative change to introduce a London-style pavement parking prohibition throughout England.

8. Red diesel and rebated biofuels to become illegal for most vehicles

The measure will mostly affect businesses rather than individuals.

It restricts the lawful use of red diesel and rebated biofuels from April 1, 2022.

Red diesel is diesel used mainly off-road, such as for bulldozers and cranes, or to power drills for oil extraction.

The change is meant to promote the use of more sustainable fuels, as part of the UK's 2050 climate targets.

9. New builds in England to have compulsory built-in EV chargers

All new properties that are built in England from 2022, including housing and commercial buildings, will have to have an EV charging point installed.

Through the availability of more EV chargers, the government hopes to boost the uptake of electric vehicles ahead of the planned ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars in 2030.

10. Speed limiters added to new cars

From July 6, 2022, new cars will be fitted with speed limiters to improve road safety.

The Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) black boxes will use GPS to work out what the speed limit is and will then ensure the car doesn't break it.

A new regulation will be imposed by the European Commission in the General Safety Regulation having been approved by the European Parliament in 2019.

ISAs will be mandatory for all new models given 'type approval' from 6 July. This means any new car brought to market from that date, rather than new cars already in production.

11. More local clean air zone charges

Next year, Greater Manchester and Bradford will introduce their own Clean Air Zones.

The Manchester Clean Air Zone will start on May 30, 2022, while a date is yet to be announced for the Bradford Clean Air Zone.

Birmingham's Clean Air Zone comes into force in June, stinging drivers of older vehicles £8 a day to enter the city centre.

Currently, London’s Clean Air Zone, also known as the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), charges drivers of the most polluting vehicles £12.50 a day on top of any congestion charge fees.

On October 25, 2021, the area expanded up to the North and South Circular ring roads, affecting more drivers with some of the most polluting vehicles.

It's worth using the ULEZ checker online to see if the charges apply to your vehicle.

The First Zero Emission Zone will also be piloted in Oxford – charging all but electric vehicles who enter eight city centre streets.

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