After sweeping changes to the Highway Code last year, the road-law updates in 2023 tend towards being much more area-specific, with many changes focusing on pedestrian rights and eco-friendly restrictions.
Here are the new areas, rules, and what you and your drivers need to know to stay on the right side of the law:
Bristol: zones with high incidences of illegal manoeuvres to be targeted for council enforcement
Bristol is capitalising on new rules that empower councils to enforce traffic violations – previously, only the police had the power to enforce these rules.
To aid in this enforcement, Bristol is placing cameras in key spots that see particularly high rates of traffic law violations like illegal u-turns, driving the wrong way down one-way streets, and illegal turns are the sort of bad driving that the cameras will be looking for.
20 mph speed limit zones in Wales
The Senedd (Welsh Parliament), passed The Restricted Roads Order last year, which means that many roads in Wales which currently have a 30mph limit, will have that limit reduced to 20mph.
The changes will come into effect in September 2023, although some areas have already implemented the change.
The speed reduction applies to restricted roads. Restricted roads are in residential or built-up areas with high pedestrian activity. Usually, these roads have street lights placed no more than 200 yards apart.
The Senedd hopes that the reductions will play a key role in:
- Reducing road collisions
- Providing more opportunities to walk and cycle
- Improving health and wellbeing
- Improving safety on the streets
- Improving the environment
The Senedd is working with highways authorities, Trunk Road Agents (TRAs) and local authorities to implement the speed limit reduction.
There are some roads where the speed limit reduction won’t apply. These are known as ‘exceptions’.
Expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)
London’s ULEZ is an already huge area covering much of greater London, and it’s being expanded to include all of London’s boroughs.
The new zone kisses the M25 in many places, and even creeps outside of the orbital motorway just east of Upminster.
If you drive a vehicle into the zone and it doesn’t meet emission standards, you could face a daily charge of £12.50. You also need to pay this if you’re a resident in the ULEZ and your car doesn’t meet emission standards, although you won’t have to pay if your car stays parked all day.
London: new scrappage scheme to help certain people obtain eco-friendly vehicles
London residents who receive certain disability and means-tested benefits may be eligible for a scrappage programme. Eligible individuals have the option to exchange their car or motorcycle for a grant payment towards a new, environmentally friendly vehicle, or they can receive a grant plus up to two annual bus and tram passes.
A separate programme has been established for sole traders, small businesses with ten or fewer employees, and charities with vans and minibuses. If they are successful in their application, they may also be eligible for additional support from the ULEZ programme. While the full details have yet to be announced, it is possible that additional support may also be available for other Londoners who do not meet the grant eligibility criteria.
Glasgow’s clean air zone (CAZ) is being enforced this year
The Glasgow Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is currently active, but the city council is planning to install cameras to detect vehicles that do not comply with the emission standards. The enforcement of the cameras for zone residents is set to begin in 2024, providing residents with ample time to switch to a low-emission vehicle.
The remaining low-emission zones throughout Scotland are expected to be enforced by 2024 as well.
Fuel duty could increase in 2023
During the spring statement, fuel duty was temporarily lowered by 5p per litre, but only for a duration of 12 months. It has been suggested that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, will reintroduce the original duty rate in 2023. As a result, fuel prices may increase by up to 12p per litre, adding to the financial burden faced by many individuals during the current cost of living crisis.
Pavement parking ban in Scotland could be implemented
The Living Streets foundation has been advocating for the implementation of a pavement parking ban in Scotland – a measure that was initially approved four years ago. The ban, if enacted in 2023, has the potential to alleviate obstructions faced by individuals with disabilities, wheelchair users, and pedestrians who are forced to take risks by walking in the street due to parked vehicles on the pavement.
It’s already against the law to park on the pavement in London and Wales.
HGV drivers could be banned from using faulty sat navs
The Local Government Association (LGA) has revealed that councils across England and Wales are pushing for a ban on faulty sat navs for HGV drivers. The usage of inadequate sat navs by HGV drivers has resulted in several incidents, such as HGVs getting stuck under bridges, causing crashes, and creating delays on the roads.
The usage of sat navs designed for standard vehicles leads to HGVs frequently getting trapped on narrow roads and under low bridges. Several examples of such incidents include a Tesco lorry blocking a street for 15 hours, a lorry carrying paint crashing into a bridge in Leicestershire, resulting in road closure for over 12 hours, and a car transporter blocking a country lane, thus preventing access to nearby homes.
E-scooters: new trials could pave the way to legality
E-scooters have become more prevalent in the UK in recent years, with some regions launching e-scooter trials to assess their road safety.
The e-scooter trials are currently underway in the following locations:
- Bournemouth and Poole
- Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, High Wycombe, and Princes Risborough)
- Cheshire West and Chester (Chester)
- Copeland (Whitehaven)
- Essex (Basildon, Braintree, Chelmsford, and Colchester)
- Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and Gloucester)
- Great Yarmouth
- Participating boroughs in London
- Milton Keynes
For a complete list of participating regions, please refer to the GOV.UK website.
You could be sharing the road with robots in 2 years
The Government declared in 2022 that it would modify the Highway Code to accommodate autonomous vehicles. This amendment would allow drivers to fully capitalize on the first self-driving cars upon their release.
The government also stated that it plans to establish a structure to sustain autonomous vehicle technology by 2025.