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Driving in 2021: The new laws being introduced and how they’ll affect you

Car legislations are updating all the time but we've got everything you need to know ahead of driving in 2021.

A new year brings new laws, and new laws bring new penalties if you break them.

With lockdown 3 in full swing, many people have been confined to their homes once more and therefore have unlikely had to obey, or even know, that any of these new rules even exist.

Last week we rounded up our top 10 driving laws that you (probably) didn’t know existed.

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But moving on to this week’s topic and with the help of Confused.com, we’ve compiled a list of the new driving laws in place for this year.

International travel

If you’re planning to go for a drive across the English Channel and into the European Union in your own vehicle, you will now not only need your driving license, but a GB sticker on your number plate - even if you already have a GB logo emblazoned onto it, and a green card.

You can pick up one of these cards from your insurance provider, with the main premise being that it proves you are insured to drive that vehicle.

The key thing here is to plan ahead. Obviously, it’s not possible to take a trip right now with the COVID restrictions in place, but just ensure you know before you go.

If your trip is in less than 12 months and you’re driving your own vehicle, you will need to take your V5C logbook along with you also.

Mobile phone use

Previously, there was a loophole in place which meant you were able to take photos and videos while you were driving.

However, this has rightly been closed and tougher penalties will now be in force if you are caught at the wheel using your mobile device.

If you are caught holding your phone or sat nav, you could be hit with a £200 fine and six penalty points on your license.

This includes browsing social media, trying to communicate via telephone or message, and even scrolling through a playlist.

Get your hands-free technology set up and plan your music choices ahead of schedule and you’ll have no problem obeying this one.

Low-emission zones

Several low-emissions zones around the country were to be implemented in 2020 but were delayed due to COVID, so it’s likely we will see them instated later this year.

Low-emission zones are generally found in big cities that have high levels of pollution and vehicles that don’t meet particular criteria have to pay to enter these restricted areas.

There are five types of vehicle that can enter these zones without a problem and they are:

* A moped or motorcycle
* A diesel vehicle, minimum standard Euro 6
* A petrol vehicle, minimum standard Euro 4
* A vehicle with zero emissions (electric or hydrogen)
* A low emissions vehicle

London is planning to introduce a much larger ultra-low-emission zone by extending its current one from October 25, 2021.

MOT extension

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced an extension to MOTs at the start of the first lockdown back in March, stating that if your MOT was up between March 31 and July 31, you could get a six-month extension.

Those six months are up at the end of January so it’s advised that if you are due one, to get it sorted as soon and as safely as you can, by continuing to follow the restrictions set out by the Government. 

E10 fuel

Currently, petrol contains up to 5% ethanol - also known as E5, and a proposed cleaner petrol, which contains 10% ethanol (E10), could be introduced this year.

The aim of this new type of petrol is to reduce carbon emissions and using E10 is thought to be the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off of the road.

EU countries such as France and Germany are already using this type of fuel, so it will be a priority for the Government once the coronavirus pandemic starts to ease off again.

The issue we may be faced with, however, is that older models may not be compatible with this new type of fuel.

Cars registered pre-2002 will not be able to use it without incurring internal damage and it’s only definitely good to use if your car is less than 10-years-old. So a little bit of a grey area if your car was made between 2002-2011. All the intricate details should be ironed out in the coming months, however.

Automatic Lane Keeping Systems

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe approved Automatic Lane Keeping Systems last year and they could be introduced in the first half of 2021 providing the flawless return of safety evidence conducted between August and October 2020.

The idea of ALKS is to keep your vehicle in the lane on the motorway at slow speeds in a similar way that cruise control controls your speed, this would control your navigation.

It’s expected to make long driving periods more bearable by allowing a little bit of a respite from your arms being stuck to the wheel for a sustained period of time, while also giving a smoother, safer driving experience.

Green number plates

Vehicles that are electric or have zero-emissions will be given green number plates to promote their assistance in helping with climate change and to make them more visible.

There could be benefits to owning a vehicle with this type of number plate, such as cheaper parking and free entry into low-emission zones.

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Speed limiters 

This technology will be mandatory in all new cars from 2022. 

These limiters alert drivers that are driving too fast above the speed limit and if they ignore the warning, the car will intervene and kill its speed.

The system will use either video or GPS to detect speed signs so will always know what the required limit is.

We imagine this will not be the most popular choice of addition for new car buyers next year...

So that’s it, these are eight new driving laws that will be coming in the next year or so. We hope we’ve given you enough time to mentally prepare yourselves for them.

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