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Changes to 2021 rules and regulations that will affect drivers

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As the UK remains in national lockdown, most drivers aren’t making nearly the same number of journeys as they would have previously. However, that doesn’t mean that the rules and regulations around them aren’t still changing.

Latest announcements confirm that 2021 is set to bring a series of changes to motoring laws and policies, which are likely to impact many, if not all motorists. These include:

 

Revisions to the Highway Code:

Last year, the Department for Transport (DfT) consulted several changes to the code which gave priority to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists and placed more responsibility on those who have the ability the help keep them safe.

Whilst the changes are to include new guidance for all road users on overtaking cycles, motorbikes and horses, giving way at junctions and for using shared or cycle lanes, there are also more targeted campaigns such as the Direct Vision Standard (DVS) which is being enforced in Greater London from March 1st.

 

Green registration plates:

These are set to become a common sight on our roads throughout the year, following a change that was implemented in late 2020.

The rule states that all new electric cars registered must feature a green flash on the left-hand side of their vehicle registration plate, to clearly identify them as being a zero-emission vehicles. And yet, whilst vehicle owners do have the choice to opt out of this, the idea has been approved as a means of making it easier for EV drivers to benefit from localised incentives, such as discounted or in some cases free parking, and problem free access to low emission zones.

 

Automated lane keeping systems:

An interesting topic which has caused much debate recently amongst transport experts, the introduction of “automated driving” systems on UK motorways could be considered later this year.

This is the idea that automated lane keeping systems could be utilised at speeds of up to 70mph, theoretically managing a car’s lane position without the driver physically having to do anything.

Whilst this delegates control of the vehicle, to the car itself, safety experts have also challenged the fact that these automated systems are not sophisticated enough just yet to be used safely and confidently on public roads, as they cannot replicate the reactions that a competent human driver could do.

 

Mobile phone use:

Of course, though using a mobile phone whilst driving is already illegal, a new legislation is expected later this year which will tighten up certain loopholes.

Now, a driver can only be charged if found using a phone for “interactive communication” such as making phone calls or sending a text message. It is also illegal to use a phone as a sat nav device whilst not in a physical holder and therefore handheld. You can in fact only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to make an emergency call to 999 and cannot stop safely to do so.

However, it is expected that changes are planned to enforce a new law where drivers will effectively be completely banned from touching their mobile phones all together, now eliminating those loopholes to include any offline uses such as:

  • Illuminating the screen
  • Unlocking the device
  • Checking the time
  • Checking notifications
  • Rejecting a call
  • Writing text messages or emails to save in drafts
  • Taking photos or videos
  • Using the phone's camera as a mirror
  • Searching for music stored on the phone
  • Searching for photos or other images stored in the phone
  • Creating voice messages into the phone
  • Reading a book downloaded on the phone
  • Or playing a game downloaded on the phone

And this is no light-hearted regulation change - if a driver is caught using a mobile phone, the penalties can be a £200 fine and six penalty points on their licence.

What’s more, courts can also fine car drivers up to £1,000, and HGV and bus drivers up to £2,500 while issuing a driving disqualification.

 

Upgraded petrol

By the end of 2021 it is expected that a new type of petrol will become the standard across the UK.

In effort to support the reduction in CO2 emissions, petrol stations will be required to sell E10 petrol as their standard unleaded fuel, replacing the current E5.

This is simply because E10 fuel has more bioethanol in it, which produces less CO2, and the Government has said that the switch has the potential to cut the UK’s emissions by 750,000 tonnes a year.

How the new fuel could impact a vehicle’s economy or even react with older vehicles, however, is yet to be determined.

 

Driving in Europe

For drivers who operate abroad for work, Brexit has brought forward several regulatory changes.

The deal now means that drivers must carry more documents with them, including a physical copy of an insurance green card, your driving licence and the vehicle’s V5C logbook.

If a driver only has a paper licence or one issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, they will also have to apply for one or more International Driving Permits.

Then, depending on the vehicle’s registration plate a driver may also need to use a separate GB sticker.

However, there are solutions which make this much more manageable.

For operators, fleet management systems such as TN360 offer tools which store all of the necessary files, assets and certifications online – easily accessible for a driver to produce in just a few clicks. These tools are tied to the fleet management solution itself, meaning they’re completely secure and can only be accessed by those with the correct system authority within the business.

It also means that drivers can eliminate the need of carrying masses of paperwork with them, keeping their cabs free of clutter and ensuring that documents are never lost, misplaced or forgotten.


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