2019 law changes that van drivers need to know

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  Posted by: electime      16th April 2019

Wasim Bux, from van insurance provider iGO4, shares his advice for drivers on how to follow the recent changes to road traffic legislation — and what changes to expect in the future.

As professionals who spend a lot of time driving from job to job, it’s important to keep up to date with the rules of the road. Everyone has to follow the regulations laid out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in the Highway Code, but here’s my advice for what else to look out for in 2019.

Previous changes

Last year, the government made changes to the laws around MOT testing so it’s a good idea to brush up on those if you’re due a test soon. As well as tougher emissions checks, there are now three different classes for vehicles that don’t fully pass the MOT depending on how serious the problem is:

  • Dangerous: These are serious defects that cause immediate risk to yourself, other drivers, or the environment, so they are a hard fail and the vehicle cannot be driven until repaired.
  • Major: These defects have the potential to cause serious risks, so they are a fail and must be immediately repaired.
  • Minor: These are defects that don’t pose an immediate threat, so the vehicle can still pass the MOT, but the issue must be fixed as soon as possible.

As well as these new classes, MOT testers can also give ‘advisories’, where they highlight any issues that the vehicle owner should monitor to prevent problems from happening in the future.

There was also a change in law regarding learner drivers on motorways. Previously, you were only permitted on motorways if you had already passed your test, but the law was changed in 2018 to say that learner drivers are permitted if an instructor is present. Following this change, it’s worth being extra mindful of learners when using motorways.

New for 2019

This year will see a clampdown on “close passes”. A close pass is when a vehicle drives too close to a cyclist, either accidentally or intentionally, and can end in confrontation or tragedy. It’s best to keep a distance about the width of a car door between your vehicle and a cyclist as you overtake to prevent collisions.

There will also be a clampdown in 2019 on drivers using lanes marked ‘x’ on smart motorways. Smart motorways are used to control traffic through variable speed limits and by opening and closing lanes accordingly, so it’s important to keep track of which lanes are in use. Driving on a lane marked with an ‘x’ is dangerous and can result in penalties and fines.

Further changes to the MOT test are being made in 2019 to take into consideration vehicles with outstanding recalls. If a vehicle is found to have an outstanding recall that has not been replaced prior to the test, the vehicle will automatically fail. The previous law was that manufacturers and retailers were the only ones responsible for recalls, whereas this change makes motorists liable. You can check for recalled vehicles, parts, or accessories by using this tool from the DVSA.

Upcoming changes

One proposed change that could be coming to the UK is the introduction of graduated driving licences. People who have recently passed their driving test would be given licenses with tougher restrictions on the number of passengers they’re permitted to have, as well as curfews, speed limits, and lower alcohol limits, for a probationary period of about six months.

A pilot scheme is currently running in Northern Ireland, and graduated driving licences are already in use across the US, Australia, and New Zealand, so they are quite likely to be brought to the UK. While this won’t directly affect most van drivers, it’s something to bear in mind when taking on apprentices as they will only be able to drive at certain times of the day.

This year, bear in mind these legislation changes when driving to ensure the safety of yourself and the people around you.