2022 brings a whole host of new road laws to UK drivers – including stricter phone rules and updates to the Highway Code. Before you next get behind the wheel, it is worth refreshing your driving knowledge to help you avoid getting hit with a fine or some unwanted points on your license.
Highway Code | New Mobile Phone Useage Rules
2022 sees stricter rules on mobile phone usage when driving, such as:
- It will become an offence to take photos and videos
- Select a song on your playlist
- Play games on your phone, even if you are stopped at a red light
Failing to observe this rule could cost you a £200 fixed penalty and six points on your license. If you have your phone on a hands-free device then you will still be allowed to use it for directions.
The Highway Code & Updated Road Hierarchy
Changes to the DVSA Highway Code have been proposed to improve road safety for more vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, who are most likely to get injured in an accident. The changes to driving laws are planned to come into effect from January 29, 2022.
It is now the responsibility of a car driver to be aware of cyclists, pedestrians, or horse riders. For example, when a car is turning into a road or exiting a road, they should stop to let pedestrians cross.
Cyclists travelling straight ahead at road junctions will now be given priority over drivers who are turning in or out or changing lanes. Riders will also be told to give way to pedestrians on shared-use cycle tracks.
Drivers must also take care to:
- Give cyclists, horse-riders and pedestrians as much room as a car – 1.5 metres for cyclists and two metres for horses.
- Drive under 10mph when going past horses and under 30mph when passing cyclists.
- Give at least two metres berth when passing pedestrians walking on the road, where there is no pavement and making sure that speed is also dropped to ‘low’.
Highway Code & Pavement Parking Ban
Parking on any pavements is already illegal in London, but it is set to be outlawed across the rest of the UK, too. Rule-breakers could face £70 fines nationwide if the change is confirmed.
New Clean Air Zones
Greater Manchester and Bradford will introduce their own Clean Air Zones in the new year. From May 30, 2022, the Manchester Clean Air Zone will start, covering Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, and Wigan. A date is yet to be announced for the Bradford Clean Air Zone.
Bradford too will start charging polluting vehicles entering its Clean Air Zone from 2022 onwards. The Bradford Clean Air Zone will cover the Bradford outer ring road and extend out along the Aire valley corridor which comprises Manningham Lane/Bradford Road and Canal Road area and will include Shipley and Saltaire.
No More Flashing Lights
Flashing your lights has always been universally accepted as a way of saying ‘you can go ahead’ or ‘thank you’ – but not anymore. The new code states: ‘Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.’ It joins revving your engine and aggressively honking your horn as an outlawed practice.
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Cables
Electric car charging cables are mentioned for the first time in the new Highway Code. According to Rule 239, ‘every care should be taken when charging vehicles to minimise any danger’. This means that you’re not allowed to leave them dangling in the street where they could injure pedestrians.
Drivers who passed their test after 1997 are now allowed to tow trailers without passing another exam. The change was supposed to come in on November 15, but finally went ahead on December 16.
Smart motorways are set to become more common in 2022, despite widespread safety concerns. The M27 between Portsmouth and Southampton is set to get a new smart highway soon.
A partial solution to the missing hard shoulder issue has been devised – lanes marked with a red ‘X’ cannot be used. The X means a vehicle is using the lane – which is usually open to traffic – for an urgent stoppage. If you’re caught driving in one of these lanes, you’ll face a £100 charge and three points on your licence.
In March 2020, a Government report focusing on the safety of upgrading all lane running (ALR,) rather than reinstating hard shoulders, The Stocktake and Action Plan, was published. The report concluded that more serious injuries or deaths would occur if hard shoulders were reinstated.
Following on from the March 2020 report, the Transport Committee published a report in November 2021 which, in part, recommended a pause in the rollout of future ALR smart motorway schemes until a full 5 years’ worth of safety data is available.
Additional recommendations, all of which have been accepted, include:
- Pausing the conversion of dynamic hard shoulder smart motorways to ALR until the next Road Investment Strategy.
- Retrofitting more emergency areas across existing ALR schemes.
- Conducting an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of stopped vehicle detection technology.
- Exploring the introduction of the emergency corridor manoeuvre to the Highway Code.
- Investigating the benefits of health and safety assessments being undertaken by the Office of Rail and Road.
The ultimate aim of the programme is to help drivers not just to be safe, but crucially, to feel safe and confident when driving.
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