Is your New Year’s resolution to save money – or even become a better driver? We’ve rounded up a range of new and old lesser-known laws you need to be aware of in 2021 – as well as the possible penalties if you do fall foul of the following laws.
Tighter Laws On Phone Usage
The government is set to introduce stricter legislation about phone usage while driving in 2021. Currently, it’s only actually only illegal to text or call without hands-free while driving – leaving a dangerous grey area for cases that don’t count as “interactive communication”.
The changes will make clearer what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to using your phone while driving. Taking into account more up to date activities, like scrolling through playlists or playing mobile phone games, stricter laws means you’re more likely to be landed with a £200 fine and six penalty points on your license if you’re caught on your phone behind the wheel.
Parking On The Wrong Side Of The Road
With many more of us at home for longer during working from home periods, you might have noticed parking your vehicle at night can be a bit of a squeeze – but it’s actually illegal to park your car on the wrong side of the road at night, and can land you with a Penalty Charge Notice.
You should always park your car in the same direction that traffic travels on that side of the road. If you don’t, the light reflectors on the rear of your vehicle won’t catch the headlights of oncoming traffic, making it harder for drivers to see your vehicle. Plus, you’ll dazzle drivers if you set off while it’s still dark, as you need to turn on your headlights. While not a new law, you might not be aware of this rule under 248 of the Highway Code until it’s too late.
The MOT Extension Ends
MOT test extensions ended on 31 January 2021 following the UK Government announcing a six-month extension for MOTs due between 31 March and 31 July 2020, due to the first coronavirus lockdown.
Since then, garages have been working through the backlog in demand that built up. Driving without a valid MOT certificate could see drivers fined up to £1,000.
Daily Charges In Clean Air Zones
Set to be introduced first in Birmingham in 2021, new laws require drivers of both non-complying petrol and diesel cars to pay daily charges of £8 to drive in specific Clean Air Zones. Even bigger fines of £50 per day are also set to be applied to bigger vehicles, including HGVs, buses and coaches, when travelling on certain roads.
In an effort to reduce pollution and lower air quality – particularly in busy city centres – petrol cars that do not comply with Euro 4 Standards (usually registered before 2004) and diesel cars that don’t meet Euro 6 Standards (usually registered before September 2015) will be subject to the fines. Similar fines are expected to be introduced in at least three other cities in the next year, too.
From the start of 2021, being outside the European Union will mean changes for people from the UK driving in Europe. Drivers will still need to take their driving licence with them to drive abroad, as well as their V5C log book, but changes in legislation now require UK drivers to carry a physical copy of their car insurance green card too, which is proof a valid insurance policy is in place.
Some countries may also require drivers to carry an international driving permit (IDP) to drive there. You can get IDPs at the Post Office. See the full advice at GOV.uk
Drinking In A Motorhome
With restrictions on travel, many of us are turning to a staycation for that annual break away. Motorhomes are a great option if you’re looking to explore British hotspots, but many holiday-goers don’t know that the driver technically can’t be drunk while inside it in a public space.
Just as it’s illegal to sleep in your car while drunk, the law is clear that drivers shouldn’t be in their vehicle while intoxicated at any point. The law only applies to the road and public places, so make sure to park up at a suitable site if you’re drinking alcohol and sleeping in a motorhome. If you do, make sure you’re under the limit before you set off again – breathalysers are a cost-effective way to gauge this.
Eating Or Drinking While Driving
Few of us can deny the convenience of a drive-through coffee on the way to work, or a drive-through meal on the way back. And even those that didn’t use this service much before are doing so much more often, especially during uncertain periods where restaurants can’t open their eat-in facilities. However, make sure to park up or get home before you dig in – otherwise you risk a £100 fine and three penalty points.
Even though eating and drinking while driving is not illegal in itself, rule 148 of the Highway Code concludes that “safe driving and riding needs concentration. Avoid distractions when driving or riding such as eating and drinking.” If a police officer believes eating and drinking is distracting you from driving safely, you can still be accused of driving without due care and attention.
Take a look at our other blogs for information on how to stay safe on the road – or browse our site to find everything you need to help you achieve maximum security, reliability and performance with any make or model.