The most important driving law changes of 2022

Highway Code changes slammed by Steve McNamara

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2022 was a year which saw many changes on the roads in the UK and abroad. Drivers faced more fines as councils looked to crack down on both pollution and careless driving. With many more changes to be introduced in 2023, analysed which new rules had the biggest impact on drivers, and which laws went under the radar.

Highway Code

One of the biggest updates to the Highway Code was made earlier this year, with the Department for Transport aiming to create a “hierarchy of road users”.

This ensures that quicker or heavier modes of travel have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others on the road.

Fresh guidance was given to cyclists and pedestrians, giving them greater protection when on the road. Drivers were advised to adopt the “Dutch Reach” when leaving the car, while punishments were increased for those using their mobile phone at the wheel.

Clean Air Zones

Bradford’s Clean Air Zone launched on September 26, while Bristol introduced its emissions-based charging zone at the end of November.

Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead) also launched its CAZ in November, although a “grace period” has been given to drivers in the city, with charges starting at the end of January 2023.

Oxford became the first city in the UK to implement a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ), which charges all non-zero emission vehicles to drive within certain boundaries in the city.

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Electric cars

Homeowners were dismayed in April after the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme was altered. It provided motorists with a 75 percent contribution to the cost of one chargepoint and its installation, with a grant cap set at £350.

On June 14, the Government announced it would be ending the Plug-in Car Grant and focusing on improving the EV charging infrastructure and grants for other vehicle types.

A handful of other changes have also been made, mainly to home chargers, which should now have “smart” capabilities, allowing drivers to put their charging on a timer, helping to keep energy bills down and ensures the National Grid is not overloaded.

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Council fines

At the end of May, local authorities in England outside of London were given the ability to apply to the Secretary of State for new powers to enforce “moving traffic offences”.  

This means they can be granted powers that have previously been held only by the police and will be able to issue fines to drivers for these offences for the first time.

Offences covered by the new enforcement include driving into a bus lane, stopping in a yellow box junction, banned right or left turns, illegal U-turns and going the wrong way in a one-way street.

Red diesel

On Friday, April 1, rebated diesel, which is commonly referred to as red diesel, as well as rebated biofuels were restricted, meaning many industries which rely on the fuel would have to look for alternatives. 

Some organisations predicted that the law changes could lead to businesses facing additional fuel expenses of between £100,000 and £400,000 per year.

Research from Interact Analysis has found that some businesses will see costs increase by more than £170,000 just by using one machine – a 50 tonne excavator.

Fuel duty

During the Spring Statement, then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 5p per litre cut in fuel duty – the first reduction in 10 years.

The change will apply for 12 months, with many questioning what Jeremy Hunt will do in March. He could continue the 5p cut, allow it to expire and return to the normal rate or increase fuel duty.

The Office for Budget Responsibility suggested that fuel duty may increase by 23 percent, which would add £5.7billion to Government coffers next year, but hammer drivers.

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