New driving laws 2018 – what you need to know

Last updated by on March 23rd, 2021

Driving laws are being updated all the time as the Government attempts to make UK roads safer. 2017, for example, saw many changes, including those to the law surrounding child car seats and the practical driving test.

There are a whole host of new driving-related laws coming into effect in 2018 – let’s take a look at what’s changing and how it will affect you.

Whiplash claims

The government has announced plans to bring in new legislation which will hopefully make fraudulent whiplash claims a thing of the past.

The Civil Liability Bill will change the way compensation is awarded for whiplash injuries that are the result of a car accident, capping the amount payable and making it impossible to receive compensation without official medical evidence.

Whiplash is one of the most common claims that insurance companies pay out for, with the number of people claiming up 50 per cent compared to a decade ago.

The amount of fake claims has been a contributing factor to the rising insurance premiums that Britain’s motorists have experienced over the past few years but with the introduction of these new laws, the Government hopes to see the average driver save around £35 on their annual premium.

Related: How to pass your MOT

Clamp down on motorway misuse

In spring, new laws come into place that mean anyone caught driving in a closed motorway lane will have to pay a fixed penalty fine.

While doing this has always been illegal, it’s only with the rollout of smart motorways across the country that the Government has begun to clamp down, as cameras on the new motorways will help catch those ignoring the rules.

Smart motorways use technology to manage and respond to the flow of traffic, opening the hard shoulder when necessary to keep the traffic flowing freely.

Speed limits are shown above each lane and if a lanes is marked with a red ‘X’, it must not be driven in.

Those caught misusing the motorway in this way will have a £100 fine to pay and will receive three penalty points on their license.

Another change to the law surrounding motorway use is that from 4th June, learner drivers will be able to go on the motorway – so long as they have a qualified instructor with them and are in a car with dual controls.

The aim is to give leaners a chance to practice their motorway driving skills before passing their test, so that they aren’t as overwhelmed when heading out on one for the first time alone.

Tax hike for diesel cars

It’s bad news for diesel drivers as they face an increase in vehicle tax, starting from this month.

The changes were announced in the November 2017 Budget and will affect newly registered cars that do not meet the latest emission standards.

The Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) will increase one band for these cars; if you’re not sure what you’ll be paying then read our handy guide to car tax bands.


MOTs get harder

From May this year, MOT testing will change with results being split into three categories – ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ and ‘minor’.

Only cars with ‘minor’ faults have a chance of passing their MOT, while any defects rated ‘major’ or ‘dangerous’ will automatically cause the vehicle to fail.

‘Dangerous’ faults are categorised as having ‘A direct and immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment’, while ‘Major’ faults ‘may affect the vehicle’s safety, put other road users at risk or have an impact on the environment’.

‘Minor’ faults have ‘no significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment’ and if your car finishes its MOT with only ‘Minor’ defects, it will pass.

MOT test centres will still advise you about items that have no current risk but could develop into an issue in the future.

On 20th May, the test will change to include diesel particulate filter (DPF) checks. There is currently a loophole where diesel cars don’t have to have their filters checked but when the new rule comes into place, any car that’s had the filter taken out or tampered with will fail.

It’s important to stay up to date with any changes to road law so that you don’t unknowingly get caught out. If you’re not sure what the law is, visit GOV.UK for more information.


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