In addition to the recent new regulations that have changed driving licences, drug-drive limits and speed limits, there are further changes due next month.
In March a new law, driving under the influence of legal or illegal drugs including cannabis and cocaine and prescription drugs including diazepam, methadone and morphine came into force across England and Wales. There have already been over 900 drug driving arrests. Motorists convicted of drug-driving will get a minimum one year driving ban, unlimited fine, up to six months imprisonment and a criminal record.
In April, the speed limit for the largest heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) travelling on a single carriageway across England and Wales increased from 40mph to 50mph, and on a dual carriageway it has increased from 50mph to 60mph.
Changes to driving laws have come into force this year to take advantage of the internet.
On 8 June the paper counterpart of the Driving Licence in which all driver information such as endorsements and which category of vehicles you are entitled to drive was scrapped and is now stored electronically and accessed online.
Changes to the way motorists provide proof of their driving records to a third party have changes with the need to obtain a special code online to allow the sharing of data.
Motorists charged with minor motoring offences including speeding, failing to identify the driver or using a vehicle without insurance are able to respond to the charges made against them digitally, using the ‘Make a Plea’ service launched in March.
A new scheme in London was introduced on 1 September that ensures all lorries and construction vehicles over 3.5 tonnes are fitted with basic safety equipment.
The Safer Lorry Scheme, which is enforced by the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police and the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency, will aim to tackle the number of fatal collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians. The scheme will run 24 hours a day across the city and any drivers found in charge of a non-compliant vehicle may be issued with a £50 penalty notice and a potential £1000 fine..
From 1 October 2015 in England and Wales it will be illegal to smoke in vehicles with anyone under 18 present.
The change in the law applies to every driver in England and Wales, including those aged 17 and those with a provisional driving licence. The law does not apply if the driver is 17 years old and is on their own in the car.
It will become an offence:
- for a person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone who is under 18
- for a driver (including a provisional driver) not to stop someone smoking in a private vehicle that is carrying someone who is under 18
Both the driver and the smoker could be fined £50, but enforcement officers will use their discretion to decide whether to issue a warning or a fixed penalty notice, or whether to refer an offence to court.
The law is changing to protect children and young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke. Every time a child breathes in second-hand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals, putting them at risk of serious conditions, such as meningitis, cancer and respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. It can also make asthma worse.
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