Earlier this year, we talked about the new laws coming in for road use in the UK. There were clean air zones to be aware of, a “green” number plate scheme and more. Now it’s time for a bit of an update. Here are the main points to keep in mind when you’re on the road for work or leisure.

The green scheme

More of a recap than an update to start with. Those special licence plates for zero-emissions vehicles are set to offer benefits from cheaper parking to free entry to certain Low Emission Zones. If your vehicle qualifies for the scheme, grab yourself a set of green plates

The London congestion charge went up to £15 last year. It was called a temporary increase at the time, but it’s being made permanent now. The charge will hit London drivers from 7am-6pm on weekdays, with weekends set at 12pm-6pm.

Meanwhile, those Low Emission Zones that were set to come into force have gathering steam. The Birmingham zone we mentioned back in February has come into force now. Only the following kinds of vehicles will be exempt from the charge there:

  • Motorcycles and mopeds.
  • Low or zero-emissions vehicles.
  • Petrol or diesel vehicles at Euro 4 and 6 standards, respectively.

In London, the Ultra Low Emission Zone is still set to extend on the 25th of October, encompassing the North and South Circular roads. As for the rest of the country, Bath, Bristol and Oxford now all have clean air zones either in effect or in the offing any time now.

While we’re on the subject of emissions, if your car’s under about 10 years old there’s a decent chance you’ll be able to use the new E10 fuel planned to launch this year. Basically all vehicles made after 2011 should be able to run on this new, greener alternative. In fact, most vehicles made this century will probably be okay.

Driving smarter

All new cars made from next year on will have to have speed limiters fitted. These gadgets are more than just a warning light letting you know that you’re going too fast. If you ignore them, they’ll actually take action to get you back to a safe speed. You’ll be able to override the devices if your situation makes it necessary, but this is still a significant change in the way people operate their cars.

Speed limiters, naturally, go hand-in-hand with other developments in self-driving technology. That Automated Lane Keeping System we’ve all heard about is still apparently on the horizon, for example. At the same time, even the roads themselves seem to be getting smarter. Technology is being used to manage the flow of traffic and reduce the risk of accidents, letting drivers know when to avoid certain motorway lanes if there’s a vehicle broken down ahead. Don’t ignore those big red X notifications over the road. Even if you avoid the danger, there are still fines and penalties to worry about.

Hard and fast rules

A quick reminder about using a mobile handset while driving: don’t. Getting caught driving phone-in-hand will cost you £200 and 6 points on your licence.

Wales is rolling out a new speed limit for residential areas of 20mph, and other parts of the UK are following suit. London, Warwickshire and Shropshire are already putting similar regulations into force, and we could see residential zones across the whole country doing the same by 2023.

If you travel in the EU, you no longer need a green card to prove you’ve got valid insurance. Instead, the documents you’ll need depend on the vehicle you’re driving:

  • Travel of under 12 months in your own car: your V5C logbook.
  • Rental or leased cars: a valid VE103 form.

The Rest

There’s been some good news for long-standing car insurance holders. From next year, the government has banned the “price creep” tactic that basically punishes people for staying loyal to an insurer. Instead, the rules now say that existing customers should be paying no more than new ones. Of course, this will probably kill off the bargain deals often offered to first-timers or people who switch insurer, so it’s a bit of a swings-and-roundabouts situation.

For those taking to the roads for the first time, there’s a change in the way the driving theory test works. Now, there’s a new video clip section of the written test, where candidates answer questions about what they’ve seen.

If your driving licence was extended because of the pandemic, the clock’s ticking on the 11 extra months you had tacked onto it. You should still get a reminder to renew it, though, so you shouldn’t get caught out.

That’s the basic round-up of the new rules and developments on the UK’s roads. Keep checking back for more updates from the UK’s leading tax experts or join us on Facebook for a chat. Wherever your work takes you, you’re better off with RIFT.

If you or someone you know travels for work then make sure you've checked if you're due a tax refund - 1 in 3 people are but many people don't realise and never claim.