Nine changes to car laws introduced this year

Car laws are changing so fast that sometimes it feels like you can be driving perfectly fine one day and then pulled over the next.

Police have closed off a road after an oil tanker flipped on its side after colliding with a van.

Luckily, breakdown specialists RAC have released nine big changes that motorists need to be aware of in 2018.

1. First-year VED rise for new diesel cars

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From April 1, the Government is introducing a tax hike on all newly-registered diesel vehicles that don’t meet the Euro 6 engine requirements under the new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) standards.

Currently no new diesel vehicles match this requirement. This picture may have changed by April - if manufacturers choose to respond quickly - but for now at least, all new diesel cars will be subject to a higher Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and go up by one band.

Part of your vehicle’s VED is based on its C02 emissions, with new cars divided into 13 bands, which determine how much tax you pay in the first year.

Last year (April 1, 2017), car tax was restructured so that only zero-emission vehicles e.g. electric cars, which cost less than £40,000 new, are tax free.

2. The T-Charge is in effect

The T-charge, or toxicity charge, that came into place in London last year will continue to operate within the City’s Congestion Charge zone.

The fee – seen as key to improving London’s air quality – requires older, higher polluting cars to pay £10 in addition to the existing £11.50 charge.

All pre-Euro four petrol and diesel vehicles are liable to pay the T-charge which will eventually be replaced when the Ultra-low emission zones are introduced in the capital in April 2019.

3. More vehicles will become MOT-exempt

Changes to MOT rules mean around 500,000 cars will be exempt from May 20, 2018.

Under new regulations from the Department of Transport, all vehicles over 40 years old will no longer be required to undergo the otherwise mandatory test.

Drivers using older cars regularly, however, will be able to submit them for voluntary MOTs.

4. Learners will be allowed on motorways

A new law allowing learner drivers on motorways will also come into play in England, Scotland and Wales, as long as they are driving with an approved instructor.

The car being driven must be fitted with dual control – including brake and clutch pedals.

The exact date for the change in 2018 is still to be confirmed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards

5. Smart motorway rules will be strictly enforced

In case you missed it, it’s important to be aware of new regulations on smart motorways, including parts of the M1, M4, M6, M25, M42 and M62.

Expected to come into force from March, drivers who ignore red ‘X’ signs above closed-off smart motorway lanes will be given £100 fines and penalty points.

6. The driving test has changed

Changes to the standard driving test came into place in December 2017. Any drivers planning to retake their test this year ahead need to be made aware of these four changes:

The new test includes the use of a satnav and candidates will be challenged to follow directions pre-set by the examiner

Reversing around a corner and turning-in-the-road will no longer be assessed - the DVSA says students may now be required to demonstrate reversing into a parking space

The independent driving section (in which candidates are left to drive with minimal instruction) will be increased from 10-20 minutes

The driver will be asked two ‘show me, tell me’ questions - one before and one during driving - each relating to how they’d carry out a safety task

7. Road upgrades in your area

The government recently announced significant numbers of roads and motorways will undergo improvements as part of £23 billion investment to upgrade UK highways.

Around £6.1 billion of improvements are scheduled over 2018.

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8. Councils must update on clean-air plans

In addition to country-wide initiatives to help reduce UK emissions, local council measures to improve air quality will also be announced in April.

These may or may not see drivers face charges.

Last year Oxford City Council announced measures to make its historic city centre both diesel and petrol-free by 2035, with plans to impose a £60 fine on those breaking the rules.

9. We’ll see more electric cars

2018 will see some innovative new models brought to market, definitely ones to keep an eye out for in 2018.

Tesla is releasing the latest version of its electric Model 3; BMW is releasing the i3s and the all-new Nissan Leaf - which boasts an improved aerodynamic look – will be arriving in showrooms.

There’ll also be first Range Rover plug-in hybrid, the Range Rover PHEV out on the roads, as well as the Audi e-tron SUV – which will be released in the second half of this year.