4 law changes that van drivers need to know for 2019

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  Posted by: electime      8th May 2019

In this article, Wasim Bux, from insurance provider iGO4, highlights four key updates to the law that will affect van drivers in 2019.

Here in the UK, driving laws are under constant review as authorities try to make the country’s roads as safe as possible for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

From new MOT regulations to alterations to the Highway Code, I’ve rounded up some of the most important changes that are likely to impact how you go about your job on a daily basis.

Read up on the new MOT rules

In May 2018, the way that MOT tests worked in the UK changed, so if your van’s annual test is due soon, you need to be familiar with these new regulations from the government.

One of the key alterations affects how any defects found are classified, with a new “dangerous” category added that will see your vehicle fail its MOT immediately. On top of that, if your van is judged to be dangerous, you can’t lawfully drive it until the fault is repaired. Doing so can lead to a fine of up to £2,500 and three points on your licence.

There are also new items that have been added to MOT checks that you should be prepared for, like examinations for underinflated tires and contaminated brake fluid. Stricter rules for vehicles with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) are now in place to ensure they’re within emissions limits — check your diesel van’s handbook to see if it has one if you’re not sure.

Get up to speed on smart motorways

Throughout the UK, there are a growing number of “smart motorways” that are designed to adapt on-the-fly to the situation on the road. This can be something like closing a lane to increase safety for a broken-down vehicle on the hard shoulder or imposing a temporary speed limit.

But it’s become apparent that many motorists don’t always obey the rules on these roads — especially ignoring the red “X” signs that indicate a lane closure. As a result, £100 fixed penalties are now in force, as well as the risk of three points added to your licence. With this in mind, it’s best to read up on the government’s smart motorway driving rules to ensure your livelihood is not jeopardised.

Familiarise yourself with Highway Code updates on close passing

Providing extra protection for cyclists and pedestrians is a major concern for lawmakers, which is why the government announced a review of the Highway Code in 2018 that will aim to safeguard their wellbeing in close pass situations.

The new guidelines will share advice for motorists on how to avoid the dangers of close passing. Currently drivers are advised to give pedestrians and cyclists “as much room as they’d give a car”, but many experts are asking for this to be defined as 1.5 metres when travelling under 30mph and 2 metres over 30mph. The guidelines will also encourage drivers to use the “Dutch reach” — a method of opening a vehicle door with the hand furthest away from it, forcing an over-shoulder check.

The results of this review are due in the near future, so we could well see an update to the Highway Code in 2019. As a van driver, you should aim to take any advice on board and stay up to date with any law changes based on the new advice.

Prepare to see learner drivers on motorways

In June 2018, a law change allowed learner drivers to begin driving on motorways during lessons in England, Scotland, and Wales, so you should expect to see more of this in 2019. The aim of this is to give new drivers more experience in dealing with the conditions on these major roads.

At the same time, the government issued guidance for other drivers who encounter a learner on a motorway, which is worth looking at if you regularly travel in your van on busy roads:

  • Like any other vehicle, ensure you maintain a safe distance — roughly a two seconds gap — from learners on the motorway, upping the gap in wet, icy, or foggy conditions.
  • Exercise more patience with learner drivers on motorways as they’re likely to be less skilled in dealing with regular road events that take place.

Take these four law change into account while you’re driving this year and you’re much more likely to travel safely and within the rules when on the job.