Driving laws 2023: These are the new driving laws enforced this year and a few old ones you need to be aware of when driving on Yorkshire roads

Every year, a new set of driving laws are enforced, this year is no different - we have also included some old laws for drivers that might catch you out.

Some new regulations are regional, but are a good measure of what may happen across the whole country in the months and years ahead. Many are being introduced in line with the government’s green agenda, whilst some are aimed at reducing accidents.

Founder of ChooseMyCar, Nick Zapolski, has said that to avoid catching drivers out, the new rules should be well publicised. “Changing clean air or low emission zones, or local speed limits, is a great idea to reduce pollution and lower accident levels. But local councils must make sure they are sufficiently publicising these changes, or many drivers will get caught out,” he said.

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ChooseMyCar is a used car buying company which has branches in Middlesbrough and Bradford. It has compiled a list of the new driving-related legalities that will come into effect this year - as well as a list of lesser-known regulations that might catch you out.

Traffic on the M62 motorway near Rothwell, Leeds. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)Traffic on the M62 motorway near Rothwell, Leeds. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)
Traffic on the M62 motorway near Rothwell, Leeds. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)

New driving rules for 2023

1 - Fuel duty likely to increase in March

While we have all been enjoying the slightly lower cost of fuel, plans are underfoot to raise fuel duty. Last year the government decided to lower tax on fuel by 5p for 13 months, but it is widely thought that this will be scrapped in the spring, this resulted in fuel going up by up to 12p per litre.

2 - Targeted enforcement areas

Problem roads may now be targeted with individual enforcement methods. Bristol is just one city where problem sites will be monitored, hoping to catch bad driving behaviours such as illegal u-turns, driving the one way down one-way streets, and making turns in a direction that is prohibited.

3 - Clean Air Zones (CAZ) to be implemented in Scotland

Glasgow became the first city to use CAZ last year, but now it plans to install cameras to capture and detect the vehicles that don’t meet its standards. However, don’t worry yet as enforcement of this rule will not begin until 2024, when other areas may also roll out CAZ.

4 - Low Emission Zone to be extended

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From August 29, 2023, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be extended to cover all London boroughs. If your vehicle doesn’t meet the emission requirements, you will face a daily charge of £12.50 - even if you live within the zone.

5 - Pavement parking could be banned in Scotland

Campaigns have been underway for several years to ban parking on pavements in Scotland, and it was approved in 2019. However, this year the ban might come into place, which means that Scotland will fall into line with London and Wales, where it is already illegal to park on pavements.

6 - New 20mph zones

Many roads in Wales will see their speed limits drop from 30mph to 20mph, as of September 2023. The roads affected are ‘restricted roads’, which means that they are built up residential areas. The new measures aim to reduce road collisions, encourage pedestrians and cyclists to use the roads, improve safety, health and wellbeing, and help reduce emissions.

Old driving laws you might not know about

1 - Honking your horn in aggression, swearing, or using rude gestures towards other road users

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Behaving like this could see you paying a fine of £1,000. This under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which prohibits aggression at the wheel. You could also be stopped for driving without full control of the vehicle, which could get you points on your licence, as well as a fine.

2 - Using your air conditioner ‘incorrectly’

During any heatwave, drivers are tempted to ramp up the aircon, meaning many of us won’t fall foul of this rule. Highway Code 237 insists that drivers must keep their cars ‘well ventilated’ at all times. Apparently, this is more to do with drowsiness than overheating, and if you are deemed to be incorrectly ventilating your car, you could face a fine of up to £5,000.

3 - The wrong sunglasses

This may seem a tad ridiculous, but according to a combination of rules, wearing the wrong glasses might cost you up to £5,000 or nine points on your licence. While code 237 states that drivers should slow down - or even stop - if their vision is compromised by sunlight, Rule 97 says that the clothing you wear shouldn’t affect your ability to control the vehicle. Technically, this means that wearing fitted sunglasses that cause a blind spot, or too darkly tinted, could see you pulled over and fined.

4 - Leaving animals in cars on hard shoulder

Most motorists are aware that if they break down on the motorway, they and their passengers should vacate the vehicle immediately and find a safe place to await help. But what many drivers don’t know is that they can’t take any pets with them. Rule 56 of the Highway Code states that pets cannot be on the hard shoulder under any circumstances; failure to comply can result in a fine of up to £2,500.

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5 - Wearing flip flops and hiking boots can see you walking into court

Some might know that flip flops are not deemed appropriate footwear for driving - but walking boots and high heels are also not acceptable. Rule 97 of the Highway Code states that drivers must wear shoes and clothes that do not prevent you from using your vehicle controls in the correct manner. But there is an easy fix - there is no fine for driving barefoot.

6 - Taking some prescription drugs before driving can be illegal

Many over-the-counter prescription drugs could see you fall foul of the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 4. This makes it an offence to drive or attempt to drive under the influence of certain drugs. Driving while taking drugs such as the commonplace Codeine can see you facing a driving ban. Always check before driving if you are taking any prescription drugs.

7 - Drinking in a camper van/motorhome

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The whole point of a motorhome is to have a home on wheels, so many motorhome or camper van owners will have had a drink while parked up. However, the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that no one in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle should be under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Technically, this could mean that drivers can be charged even if they have no intention of driving the vehicle.

8 - Drenching a pedestrian

Despite being depicted in many a TV or film comedy, it is actually illegal to drench a pedestrian by driving through a puddle. Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act counts this act as ‘driving without reasonable consideration for other people’ and can land you a £100 fine.

9 - Driving too slow

ChooseMyCar.com research showed that more than 90 per cent of UK drivers admitted to speeding - but actually the opposite of this is also illegal. Driving too slow on British roads can see you fined £100 on the spot, and even give you three points on your licence. If it goes to court, you could end up with an impressive £5,000 fine and nine points on your licence.

10 - Parking your car after dark

One little known rule means that it is illegal to park our car at the side of the road facing against the direction of traffic after dark. This is due to Highway Code 248, and going against this guidance can land you a fine of up to £2,500.

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