If you are a driver, you need to be aware that on the 1st of June, the highway code received its annual update, which means there are now new rules to be observed or fines will be issued. It is up to you to make sure you familiarise yourself with all the changes, as the defence of not knowing is unacceptable, and the fine will stand. The main changes include the council having increased powers, information surrounding clean air zones having changed, and electric vehicles being charged at home, so let’s take a look.
Most people are focusing on the new council powers that have come into force across England and Wales, which means that councils have the right to penalise drivers for traffic offences. This devolution of power is intended to ensure that roads are safe and walking and cycling are promoted above cars.
First up, motorists must understand what they should do when emergency vehicles are trying to pass, or they could face a £1000 fine. Although it can be very intimidating when an emergency vehicle is behind you with its lights and sirens on, the normal rules of the road apply. You must give way to vehicles with flashing lights, but you must maintain the law while doing so. People wrongly assume that they must just pull over at all costs, but if you drive into a bus lane, jump a red light, enter a yellow box junction or make an illegal turn and end up facing the wrong way down a one-way street, you could face £1000 fine. While remaining vigilant for emergency vehicles, you must then take evasive action when it is safe to do so within the laws of the road. This includes never stopping on the brow of a hill, never mounting the curb and ensuring you are not putting anyone in danger by harshly breaking. These are traffic offences, so they should never happen regardless of whether you are trying to avoid an emergency vehicle or just driving badly.
Honk Your Horn
Or rather, do not honk your horn. You can be fined £30 for unnecessarily using your horn. The horn is to ensure other drivers are aware of you. In road rage incidents, you break the law if you get angry and use the horn.
Although not likely to be an issue in the current season, it is stipulated that ice and snow must be cleaned off your car. In addition, your windscreen, number plate and lights must be free from both snow and ice. Failure to do so can lead to a £60 fine.
Common sense dictates that parking on the pavement isn’t particularly smart and doesn’t help pedestrians, especially those with prams or wheelchairs. Parking on the pavement in London is absolutely against the law, and rule breakers will get fined £70. There are sections of the country that allow it, but you should be in clear view of a sign confirming it is permitted.
When you park your car at night, and the night part is important, you must park in the direction of the traffic flow unless you are in a designated parking space. If you park the wrong way at night, the fine can be £1000, this would not apply in the day.
Splashing a pedestrian might seem unavoidable at times; however, you need to take precautions because if you drive through a puddle and get a pedestrian wet the fine can be £5000, and if you’re unlucky, 6 to 9 points are added to your license.
So what’s the buzz on electric car charging? The first change won’t affect many people; the changes here mostly relate to new builds, regardless of whether they are residential or industrial and the need for a certain amount of electric car charging points to be added depending on the size of the build. The one that might affect you is for existing electric vehicle charging points, and homes and businesses will be required to make sure these have smart charging capabilities as soon as possible but by the 30th of June. These changes are to protect overload to the National Grid.
Clean Air Zones
London has had a clean air zone for some time now, meaning that if the vehicle exceeds the emission standards, you pay a charge to drive into a clean air zone. The new changes to the highway code will add more cities and clean air zones to the list. Portsmouth, Bath, and Bradford already have clean air zones. Greater Manchester is also thought to be on the cards, with Bristol set to impose charges in the next few months.