When you’re on the road for work every day, you’ve got to make sure you’re bang up to date on the latest rules. The laws for road use change every once in a while, and in 2021 we’ve got several new ones to stick to. Penalties for breaking the rules of the road can be pretty painful, so here’s a breakdown of what’s coming in this year.

Green number plates

Okay, so this one’s more of a carrot than a stick, but it’s no less important for that. If you’re driving an eco-friendly vehicle with zero emissions like an electric car, you can grab yourself a new green licence plate.

It’s about more than just showing off your eco-cred, though. Those green plates could well see you scooping up a range of benefits down the road. There’s already talk about less expensive parking, for instance, along with the possibility of special access to exclusive zones.

Clean Air Zones

While we’re on the subject of reserved spaces and environmentally friendly vehicles, London already has a few Ultra-Low Emission zones (ULEZ) in place. That scheme’s on the rise in 2021, with expansions planned that’ll stretch out to the North and South Circular Roads from the 25th of October.

Driving a vehicle that doesn’t meet strict emissions standards through the ULEZ will cost you £12.50, day or night, 7 days a week. Meanwhile, areas outside of London are already planning on introducing Clean Air Zone rules of their own. Birmingham’s, for instance, will charge you £8 a day if you’re driving a non-compliant vehicle.

Automated Lane Keeping Systems

This hasn’t actually happened quite yet, but we’ve been warned by the Department of Transport to look out for it in the coming months. Basically, Automated Lane Keeping Systems (ALKS) are being described as a kind of “traffic jam chauffeur”. Using cutting-edge technology, they’ll actually allow your vehicle to “drive itself” on motorways, matching your speed to the road and traffic conditions around you.

Obviously, this is a scary new concept for many people, and almost everyone accepts that ALKS won’t be a replacement for a cool head and a steady pair of hands on the wheel. However, it’s still a technology with vast potential and something we all need to be aware of now. If nothing else, it could mean your car won’t wander all over the road just because your mind does.

Mobile phones

Another technology-based rule to get comfortable with. If you’re still finding excuses to drive with your phone in your hand, you’re really going to need to stop that. The old “get-out clauses” about valid reasons for holding a phone while in control of a vehicle are going straight out of the window. Getting caught driving phone-in-hand is going to cost you £200 and 6 points on your licence from now on.

Wherever you're driving, if it's for work and you're covering the costs you could be due a tax refund from HMRC. We can help you claim it back, so have a look at our free mileage tax relief calculator and see  if you're owed a tax rebate.

Get that MOT sorted now

The deadline extensions for MOT tests that the government announced when the UK first locked down are now at an end. If you were due a test between the 31st of March and the 31st of July last year and still haven’t got it sorted, you’re now looking at a £1,000 fine.

Brexit, of course...

Okay, so you’re probably sick to the back teeth of hearing about Brexit by now. Even so, if your work takes you onto the EU’s roads, you’ll need to get yourself a “car insurance green card” to prove you can legally drive there.

It’s not like having to buy new insurance. In fact, the card itself is pretty much just a translation of your existing policy. What it does prove, though, is that you’ve got at least the basic minimum coverage you need to use EU roads. You can get your green card from your insurance provider, and you’ll need to have it on you at all times when driving in the EU. If your car’s under a year old, you’ll need to have your VC5 logbook with you as well.

Further down the road

UK road laws are pretty fast-moving. New technology, new schemes and new environmental targets are always on the way, and it’s your job to keep pace. 2022 is already promising compulsory Intelligent Speed Assistants in all new vehicles, for instance. On the low-tech end, there’s also a possible UK-wide ban on pavement parking to look forward to. Keep in mind that the laws on road use are no joke. Getting caught breaking one can mean points on your licence, fines and even losing your car insurance. Keep yourself and others safe by always staying up to date.

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