New UK Van Driving Laws for 2020

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New Van Driving Laws for 2020

Driving laws are often altered to improve many aspects of road safety.  Specifically for larger vehicles, many changes are being made in relation to low emission zones.

It is important to know what is already in place and also what changes can be expected this year and in the future.

New Low Emission Zones

In April 2019, Central London received its first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) covering the same area as the Congestion Charge.  If your vehicle does not meet the standards, a daily charge of £12.50 will be applied when you drive in the zone.

Inner London plans to extend the zone to inner London areas in 2021 are underway with other major cities following suit.

Leeds City Council plans to introduce a Clean Air Charging Zone in 2020.  Vehicles that do not meet the standards, a daily £12.50 charge will apply.  Buses, coaches and HGVs will be charged £50 per day.  To find out what it means for you, click here.

Birmingham City Council plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone in 2020.  Private vehicles will not be charged.  LGVs and Taxis will be charged £10 per day.  Buses, coaches and HGVs will be charged £50 per day.  To find out what it means for you, click here.

Sheffield City Council plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone in 2021.  Vehicles that do not meet the standards, a daily £8 charge will apply.  Buses, coaches and HGVs will be charged £50 per day.  No charge to motorcycles, mopeds or scooters in the zone.  To find out what it means for you, click here.

Greater Manchester City Council is considering introducing a Clean Air Plan.  To find out what it means for you, click here.

MOT Test Changes

The MOT test changed in 2018 for England, Scotland and Wales.  It now comes with new defect types, some vehicles over 40 years becoming exempt and stricture rules for diesel car emissions.

Defects are categorised differently as either dangerous, major or minor.  MOT testers will still give advice about items you need to monitor, these are called “advisories”.  For a list of what each category means, click here.

For Northern Ireland, click here.

Smart Motorway

Smart Motorways are designed to improve safety, good for drivers and add vital lanes to some of the busiest motorways in the country.  They have places to stop in an emergency, hard junctions on slip road and motorway service areas.  These are currently approximately 1.5 miles apart with construction starting this year to 1 mile apart.

A section of a Smart Motorway uses traffic management methods to reduce congestion and increase capacity.  It includes using variable speed limits to control the movement of traffic and using the hard shoulder as a lane.

To view all current and planned Smart Motorway schemes, click here.

The main points are:

  • Keep left unless overtaking
  • Do not drive under a Red X (this indicates that the lane ahead is closed to traffic due to an incident or people working ahead). If you see one, change lanes.
  • Stick within the speed limit
  • Know what to do if you break down

If you are caught speeding on a smart motorway, you could be fined £100 and receive three penalty points.  The same fine and points also apply for drivers who ignore smart motorway lane closures.

The law on using your mobile phone whilst driving or stationary

Using a phone whilst driving

Current legislation states that a mobile phone cannot be used whilst driving to call or text.

This is about to change.  This year (Spring 2020), revised legislation will include using a phone to browse the internet, taking photos and videos and scrolling through music playlists.

To be on the safe side, do not use your phone at all whilst driving.  If you are caught, you will receive a fixed penalty of £200 and six points on your licence.  For more information, click here.

Using a phone or Sat-Nav when driving

It’s illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle. You must have hands-free access, such as:

  • a Bluetooth headset
  • voice command
  • a dashboard holder or mat
  • a windscreen mount
  • a built-in sat nav

The device must not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.

You must stay in full control of your vehicle at all times. The police can stop you if they think you’re not in control because you’re distracted and you can be prosecuted.

The law still applies to you if you are:

  • stopped at traffic lights
  • queuing in traffic
  • supervising a learner driver

Using the phone while stationary

If you need to use your phone for an emergency, pull over to a safe place and turn your engine off.  Take the keys out of the ignition and then use your phone.

When you can use a hand-held phone

  • If you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.

Pavement Parking

MP’s are now calling for a blanket ban of parking on the pavement across the country which could be in place by 2020.  Click here to see the Transport Committee’s Pavement Parking inquiry’s findings.  £70 fine.

Review of the Highway Code

The government is set to review the Highway Code on how road users should behave in relation to pedestrians and cyclists, in particular, “close passing” of cyclists which leads to accidents.  101 cyclists died in 2017 in road traffic collisions.  To view the Highway Code, click here.

Plans are in place to update the Highway Code on how users in relation to cyclists and pedestrians in 2020.

To find the most up to date information the review, click here.

The Department for Transport is also publishing an updated national standard for cycling training manual, now with the latest best practice on safe cycling.  Click here for more information.

Graduated driving licences

The Government is now looking at steps to make new drivers safer by exploring the introduction of Graduated driver licences.

This means that restrictions may come into force to ensure that learner drivers have a minimum learning period, new drivers not being able to drive at night, or not driving with passengers under a certain age etc.

Graduated licensing schemes already operate in countries including New Zealand, US, Canada and Sweden.

Changes have already been made to driving tests to include adding a satellite navigation section.

Any changes to licensing will be consulted on before being introduced.

Legal Driving Hours and speed limits

Driving Hours

If you drive a van for business for more than 4 hours a day in the UK, you must follow the Great Britain domestic rules on drivers’ hours or you could be fined up to £300 for exceeding daily driving limits.  Click here for the most up to date guidance.

If you are driving outside of the UK, you can find the domestic rules of each country you are visiting from the relevant embassies here.  If you are driving in the EU, click here.

Speed Limits

30mph limit usually applies to all traffic on the road with street light unless signs show otherwise.  For the most up to date guidance for all types of vehicles, click here.

Vans in a built-up area is limited to a speed limit of 30 mph, on a single carriageway up to 50 mph, on a dual carriageway 60 mph and on a motorway 70 mph.

Car-Type Van in a built-up area is limited to a speed limit of 30 mph, on a single carriageway up to 60 mph, on a dual carriageway 70 mph and on a motorway 70 mph.

Van and trailer in a built-up area is limited to a speed limit of 30 mph, on a single carriageway up to 50 mph, on a dual carriageway 60 mph and on a motorway 60 mph.

Driving abroad after Brexit

If there’s no deal in place after 31st January 2020 and you drive in or through Europe for business or pleasure, you may need to apply for an international driving permit (IDP) depending on the country you are driving to.

To find the most up to date information on driving abroad from the UK, click here.

Driving without Van Insurance

It is illegal to drive a vehicle on a road or in a public place without at least 3rd party insurance. For guidance click here.

If you are employed by another person or company and use their van:  You should physically check yourself that you are legally insured to drive the vehicle.  The police could give you a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if you’re caught driving a vehicle you are not insured to drive.

If you are self-employed: You should ensure that you have a current van insurance policy.  The police could give you a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if you’re caught driving a vehicle you are not insured to drive.  Click here to find a competitive van insurance quote.

If you found our New Van Driving Laws for 2020 guide helpful, let us know!

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