Driving in the UK? Read about the Latest Rule Changes in 2024

Earlier this year various new driving laws were introduced, impacting both standard road users as well as HGV and PSV road users across England, Wales and Scotland. If you are driving in the UK, especially if you are a commercial driver, then you should ensure that you are aware of these amendments and new rules that are either in place or about to come into place.

HGV Rule Changes – Smart Tachographs

Regulation (EU) 165/2014 has been amended by the Drivers’ Hours, Tachographs, International Road Haulage and Licensing of Operators (Amendment) Regulations 2022, to specify the implementation dates for the smart tachograph 2.

This was then amended further by the Drivers’ Hours and Tachographs (Amendment) Regulations 2023 to allow a ‘transitional’ smart tachograph to also be used.

Under Article 3 of the Regulations, the implementation dates for all HGVs to be fitted with a full smart tachograph 2, including a transitional smart tachograph 2 are as follows:

  • On or after 21 August 2023:

A full smart tachograph 2 or a transitional smart tachograph 2 must be fitted into newly registered in scope vehicles undertaking international journeys.

  • On or after February 2024:

A full smart tachograph 2 or a transitional smart tachograph 2 must be fitted into all newly registered in scope vehicles regardless of journey types.

  • On or after 31 December 2024:

A full smart tachograph 2 or transitional smart tachograph 2 must be retrofitted into in scope vehicles with an analogue or digital tachograph undertaking international journeys.

  • On or after 19 August 2025:

A full smart tachograph 2 or transitional smart tachograph 2 must be retrofitted into in scope vehicles currently fitted with a smart tachograph 1 that are undertaking international journeys.

  • On or after 1 July 2026:

A full smart tachograph 2 or a transitional smart tachograph 2 must be fitted into newly registered goods vehicles over 2.5 tonnes, undertaking international journeys for hire and reward.

New HGV Safety Rules – London 28th October 2024

Transport for London (TfL) will be introducing enhanced safety measures to what is being called a “world-leading” HGV safety standard for the capital city.  The “Direct Vision Standard” (DVS) and safety permit scheme was originally launched in 2019.  The DVS aims to measure how much HGV drivers can see directly through their cab windows.  Those vehicles with good direct vision will be given a five-star rating whilst vehicles with limited or poor vision will not receive any stars and will not be permitted to operate in the area the scheme operates in unless the vehicle is fitted with the new Progressive Safe System.

The Progressive Safe System (PSS) is a set of vehicle safety measures fitted after or at the point of manufacture which are designed to reduce the risks that HGVs present to vulnerable road users.  TfL state that to ensure consistency the PSS is aligned to other scheme requirements, including existing and forthcoming standards such as the European Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) regulations “where possible”.

To improve the safety of all road users, from 28th October 2024 all HGVs over 12 tonnes will be required to have a minimum three-star rating or to be fitted with the aforementioned ‘Progressive Safe System’ (PSS) (vehicle safety measures) to mitigate any blind spots on the vehicle.  It is hoped that the scheme will help to reduce fatalities for other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians on the city’s streets.  Failure to comply with these regulations will result in penalty charge notice being issued by TfL to the vehicle owners.  It is free to apply for a permit.  Click here to go to TfL’s page.

And click here to get further information on the Direct Vision Standard.

DVSA – Possible Changes to Eye Test Criteria

At the end of 2023 the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) published it’s “business plan for 2023-2024”.  This plan includes the possibility that the DVSA is considering how the current eyesight test for drivers is administered and that a consultation between the DVSA and the Driving and Vehicle Licencing Authority’s (DVLA) Medical Panel is underway to look at whether the test is still fit for purpose.

Currently drivers are asked when taking their driving test to read a licence plate from 20 meters away in ‘good light’ in order to pass the test.  That is often the only test of a driver’s eyesight that is made until such time as they are aged 70 and over, when one is required to renew one's licence every 3 years and to meet the “minimum eyesight rules” in order for the licence to be re-issued.  All drivers, no matter what their age, are required to notify the DVLA of any vision loss or certain eye disorders and failing to do so may result in a fine of £1,000.00 and a driving ban.

The thinking behind the possible change to eyesight tests comes following a public consultation which explored potential challenges to how the eyesight test is carried out.  Over 17 million drivers in the UK are reported to have night vision problems or difficulty seeing well in poor conditions, such as driving rain, or low sunlight.  It is therefore thought that the rule that eyesight tests must be conducted in “good daylight” will be changed and that an eyesight exam that tests functionality in low light conditions may be implemented.  Currently there are no confirmed details, but such a change would likely impact a large number of drivers, especially elderly ones who are more likely to have eye conditions and fading night vision.

Clean Air Zone – Sheffield

In order to meet net zero emissions in the UK by 2050, various areas of the country have begun enforcing clean air zones, with many more to follow. Sheffield’s clean air zone went live in February 2023 which means that Vans, light goods vehicles and taxis are charged £10 a day for travelling into the zone, whilst coaches, buses and HGVs are charged £50.

However, many exemptions and discounts were put in place, one of which was an exemption for commercial vehicles with existing finance agreements, paying any zone fees until February 2024 or in some cases up until the finance agreement ends.

It is therefore important to check your entitlement to exemptions and discounts in the clean air zones in your area, to ensure that you are still eligible for either an exemption or discount on your vehicle(s)..

These regulations are underpinned by Part III and Schedule 12 of the Transport Act 2000 and Parts 2 and 6 of the Road User Charging Schemes (Penalty Charges, Adjudication and Enforcement (England) Regulations 2015).

Pavement Parking – Scotland

In January 2024 pavement parking enforcement came into effect in Edinburgh and other Scottish regions have duly followed.

The Highland Council stated that this law will prevent all drivers from stopping and parking on pavements.  Anyone caught doing so will be issued with a Penalty Notice Charge.

This is enforced by the Highland Council and is underpinned by section 50 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019.

If you would like any help or advice on any of the topics discussed in this article then please do not hesitate to get in touch.  Our team of lawyers are here to help.  Click here to send an email or call us on 01279 818280.

© Richard Pelly June 2024

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