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Created as part of a wider two-year road safety action plan, these new measures have been introduced alongside a newly-updated Highway Code, which outlines a further set of changes including new vehicle maintenance requirements. Drivers who fail to familiarise themselves with the new requirements run the risk of incurring hefty fines.

These measures are all of immediate relevance to fleets. This means that they are now faced with a number of important questions – namely, how to adapt to the changed road safety regulations, how best to use technology to boost safety and how to ensure that their drivers are aware of the changes.

Protecting cyclists

A key focus of the new road safety changes is improving the protection of cyclists from the various dangers they face on the road. In case anyone doubts just how important this is, it’s worth noting that a study from road safety charity Brake last year found that bikers and cyclists were 63 times more likely than car drivers to be killed or injured on UK roads.

The government has therefore introduced tougher penalties for motorists caught passing cyclists too closely. Those drivers who are caught doing so will be fined £100 for failing to allow a cyclist sufficient room while passing them. The Highway Code stipulates that motorists should leave 1.5 metres between their vehicle and the cyclist they are passing.

This new measure follows the publication of the government’s Cycling & Walking Investment Strategy safety review in 2017, which aims to encourage cycling and walking instead of vehicle use between now and 2040. Also set to come into force are other measures including new powers for councils to deal with drivers who park in cycle lanes.

New MOT categories

New categories have also been introduced for cars, vans, motorcycles and light passenger vehicles undergoing MOT inspections. While these were formally introduced in May last year, 2019 marks the first full year in which they have been applied and many motorists are still largely unaware of their significance.

The MOT categories now applicable are as follows:

•    Dangerous: this results in an automatic fail and designates an either immediate risk to road safety or an unacceptable risk to the environment. The vehicle must not be driven again until the fault has been repaired.
•    Major: this again results in a fail being issued and indicates a potential risk to safety or the wider environment. The fault in question must be repaired immediately.
•    Minor: while drivers are required to repair minor faults as quickly as possible, these are considered not to pose a significant threat to road safety or the environment and therefore a pass verdict can be issued.
•    Advisory: this denotes a fault which may develop into something more serious in future, but does not currently present any danger to road safety. Drivers are advised to monitor it and repair where necessary.
•    Pass: this is issued wherever the minimum legal standard is met.

New motorway road safety rules

There have also been some changes to laws with regards to driving on the motorway. In particular, learner drivers are now permitted to drive on the motorway while with an instructor in a vehicle with dual controls. Previously, they were made to wait until they obtained their full driver’s licence.

Road safety laws are also changing to reflect the increasingly widespread rollout of ‘smart motorway’ schemes across the country. Motorists who drive in closed motorway lanes (denoted by a red ‘X’ on the signs above them) will be issued with a £100 fine as well as three points on their licence.

Telematics and road safety

Adapting to the continual changes to road safety regulations is an ongoing challenge for fleets. Technology can make this significantly easier than it would be otherwise. The introduction of telematics, in particular, is helping to drive up road safety standards and drastically simplify compliance.

For example, telematics systems are assisting with vehicle maintenance by allowing firms to implement preventative maintenance schedules, while also reducing the risk of unscheduled vehicle downtime. They are also helping to promote enhanced driver safety standards, providing detailed insights into driver performance on the road and allowing for the development of targeted, individually-tailored driver training programmes.

Learn more about Teletrac Navman’s comprehensive fleet management solutions and how they can help your fleet adapt to an ever-changing business environment.

Heather Waters is a Digital and Content Marketing Executive at Teletrac Navman.

Heather Waters is an innovative and driven digital content marketer with a degree from Manchester Metropolitan University emphasis on Film and TV.