New Driving Rules and Laws - 12 Things You Need to Know

There have been some important changes to the Highway Code and driving laws recently, here's the ones you should know about!

Nick Pitman Marmalade

By Nick Pitman

Updated on Jan 10th, 2022

On January 29th, several big changes were made to the Highway Code.
From driving laws concerning mobile phone usage to the new Highway Code Rules for drivers and riders, there are some controversial and substantial expansions that will impact every driver in 2022.

Don’t worry though, we have them covered here for you!

Tighter laws on mobile phone usage

mobile phone driving
Of course, you already made the Highway Code part of your essential reading list so you know that it’s against the law to text or make a phone call (unless it’s an emergency) while driving, but it is now illegal to touch your phone while behind the wheel to:

- Record video or take photos
- Change the music
- Play games

The only exception to the law is when you may use your phone to pay for something (tolls, drive-throughs) while the car is stationary.

You could receive a £200 fine and get 6 points on your licence if you ignore this!

It is still OK for you to go hands-free with your calls, music, and sat-nav; just as long as your phone is in a cradle/mounted holder.

A new “Hierarchy” of road users

Hierarchy of road users
Rule H1 seeks to ensure a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users. The hierarchy is now:

- Pedestrians

- Cyclists

- Horse riders

- Motorcycles

- Cars/taxis

- Vans/minibuses

- Large goods and passenger vehicles/heavy goods vehicles

What this means is that the road users who can do the most damage are at the bottom so must reduce the risks they pose to others accordingly. As a car driver, you must be more considerate to those higher up.

Updated, clearer rules on where pedestrians have right of way

Where cyclists have priority
Rule H2 creates clearer priorities for pedestrians, especially at junctions, and makes clear where they have right of way. This doesn’t mean that pedestrians have priority in every situation, just that the road users who can cause the greatest harm will have the greatest responsibility of reducing the threat they may pose to others.

For you as a driver, you now have more responsibility to be aware of pedestrians, cyclists, or horse-riding:

- Don’t cross the path of cyclists or horse-riders at junctions

- Pedestrians have priority when they are waiting to cross at a junction or zebra crossing

- Pedestrians and cyclists have priority at a parallel crossing

- Maintain a distance of 1.5 metres when you overtake a bike or motorbike at 30mph

- Cyclists are advised to ride in the middle of the road (in slow/quiet traffic) and when they approach a junction

If you are trying to overtake more than one cyclist they should be in single file, however, if they are a large group on a narrow lane they can ride “two abreast”.

New rule H3 gives cyclists priority at times:

- When they are changing lanes or directions

- When they are turning into/out of a junction

- Drivers must not cut across cyclists, but give way to them

It doesn’t matter if they are on a roundabout, approaching or leaving a junction, or by slow or stationary traffic - you must give way.

Road positioning for cyclists:

New rule 72 advises:

- To be as visible as possible, they can ride in the centre of the lane if it is quiet

- Should a vehicle approach them from behind they should move to the left

- When traffic is slow they should move to the left so faster vehicles may overtake

- They can ride in the centre as they approach junctions

- If the road is busy they should allow vehicles to overtake

You cannot flash your lights at pedestrian crossings

do not flash your lights
You already know that you shouldn't rev your engine, wave, or pip your horn to signal to pedestrians that they can cross a zebra crossing, but now you can’t flash your lights at them either.

Rule 239 has 2 updates re: ‘waiting and parking'

Rule 239 cyclists and drivers
The ‘‘Dutch reach’ technique has been introduced to decrease the likelihood of causing injury to cyclists or motorcyclists who are passing you.

Here’s how to do it:

- Instead of your right hand, move your left hand over to open the door

- This naturally causes your body and head to twist to the right

- This makes it easier for you to look over your shoulder to see if anyone is there or approaching

The second update is that if you have an electric vehicle, you must respect the fact that the charging cables could be a trip hazard for pedestrians so you must take extra care to minimise this risk.

Increase in the powers of local councils

It is expected that by April, local councils in England and Wales will be given the power to issue £70 fines if you:

- Make an illegal turn or U-turn

- Drive in a cycle lane

- Fail to give way to oncoming traffic

- Stop in a box junction

- Drive in a no-entry zone

- Drive the wrong way on a one-way street

Increase in road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty/VED)

road tax increase
This is set to rise with the retail prices index measure of inflation in April, but the rates are yet to be confirmed by the government. It all depends on your car's CO2 emissions:

- If your car emits 0g per km of CO2 - it should remain a zero cost

- 1g - 50g per km will pay £10 for the first year

- 51g - 75g per km will pay £25 for the first year

- 76g - 150g per km will pay £220

Find out how much car tax you are paying using the website.

Nurses could be allowed to decide if you are fit to drive

Nurse checking
To help speed up times for licence renewals at the DVLA, the government is looking at changing the rules for drivers and motorcyclists as to who can complete the medical questionnaires. Julie Lennard, the DVLA Chief Executive, 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."

Compulsory EV - Electric Vehicle charge points

Electric Vehicle charge points
As of this year, all new properties in England, including supermarkets, offices, and new build homes will have to have an EV charging point installed.
The government is hoping that implementing this now will incentivise more people to go electric ahead of their plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030. It’s likely that petrol cars will be phased out after diesel cars.

More city centres becoming “Clean Air Zones”

more clean air zones
Knowing your car’s emissions rating is more important than ever, especially if you live in, or plan to visit, any of the cities listed below. The rise in Clean Air, Low Emission and Ultra Low Emission Zones mean a potential rise in costs for your journey so check to see if your car is CAZ, LEZ, ULEZ, and ZEZ compliant.

- Birmingham - June

- Oxford - February

- Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh & Glasgow - Spring

- Manchester - May 30

- Newcastle - July

- Bradford - January

- Bristol - Summer

- Sheffield - Late 2022

- Liverpool - 2022/23

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