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Are you familiar with these new driving rules?

We're settling into 2019 now, so if you're still unclear about the new driving laws coming into effect this year, we're here to make sure you're clued up.

Car driving on a road

The rules impact drivers young and old, new and experienced. To make sure you don't get caught out, here's a quick recap:

Changes to driving lessons

A new law that came into effect last year means you can now take lessons on a motorway. But you do need to be with an approved instructor in a dual-control car displaying L-plates, as the RAC explains.

Newly-qualified drivers

New drivers who have been behind the wheel for two years or less face stronger penalties for certain driving offences, such as using a mobile phone. If you receive six or more points within the first two years on the road, you'll have your licence revoked and will have to retake both parts of your test.

This year, talks will continue around the introduction of a graduated driving licence for new drivers. This will impose restrictions on new drivers for a set time and, according to the RAC, are likely to include:

  • Curfews – new drivers will be banned from driving during certain times
  • Passengers – there will be limits on how full a new driver's car can be
  • Alcohol – a lower legal threshold for blood readings
  • Speed limits – new drivers will have to travel at slower speeds
  • Engine sizes – the car's power output will be limited
  • P-plates – new drivers will need to display these for two years

A pilot graduated licence scheme is being rolled out in Northern Ireland until 2020. If it's successful, it's more likely it'll be introduced in England.

Overtaking cyclists

Citing the Highway Code, Manchester Evening News explains drivers must leave a decent distance (1.5m) when overtaking a cyclist.

Now, drivers who get too close to cyclists when passing them could be fined £100 and get three penalty points on their licence. Police forces across England are being encouraged to deliver penalties to people driving dangerously close to cyclists.

Smart motorways

As more sections of motorways are upgraded to smart motorways, drivers need to pay attention to the signs overhead – or risk a fine.

If a car's caught in a closed lane, marked by a red 'X' on an automated sign, they could get stung with a £100 penalty. Lanes are usually closed when there's an accident or blockage, to prevent further incidents.

New MOT rules

If you haven't booked an MOT since May 2018, there are some changes you'll need to be aware of. First up, there are new categories for car defects, which are:

  • Dangerous (fail) – direct risk to road safety and/or the environment
  • Major (fail) – could impact safety or environment
  • Minor – not impacting safety, but should be repaired as quickly as possible
  • Advisory – may impact safety in future
  • Pass – meets legal standards

For the first time, MOTs will include under-inflated tyres, contaminated brake fluid, brake pad warning lights, missing brake pads/discs, reversing lights and daytime running lights.

As Gov.UK explains, diesel cars face stricter tests in terms of emissions. This relates to cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF), which will fail the test if there's coloured smoke coming from the exhaust or evidence the filter has been tampered with.

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