The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is urging drivers around the UK to make sure they are keeping abreast of all the changes that are taking place with regards to the laws on British roads.
It's been a year for changes so far, what with the scrapping of the counterpart licence and various speed limit alterations across the country. And the IAM says this is not all, with a raft of other new laws still to come in later in the year.
So far in 2015, we've seen a number of changes, starting with the early change to the law that meant driving under the influence of drugs could be treated in the same way as drink-driving. Anyone driving under the influence of cocaine, cannabis, LSD, ecstasy and other substances could be caught out by new technology that works in the same way as breathalysers.
Offenders could even face up to a year and a half in jail if found guilty, and could also be banned for a minimum of a year if they are found to have been under the influence of illegal substances.
March also saw the introduction of a campaign called Make a Plea, where drivers are able to respond to minor driving charges such as speeding, tailgating and other small offences. Through the internet, drivers can now make their case and put their point of view across.
The biggest change of the year so far came last month, when the DVLA pulled itself into the 21st century with a change to the way it holds data on each and every driver in the country. Rather than information being stored on the counterpart paper licence, as it has been in the past, new regulations saw this scrapped, with all the relevant data moved online.
It means drivers can have easier access to their history and information when they need it, such as for applying for jobs which require certain driving licence criteria and hiring a car. The DVLA said that it make things easier for motorists, save administration time and tie in better with the internet.
Later in the year we will see lorry drivers forced to drive slower than in the past on British roads, while those operating a fleet will also need to know that from September every 3.5 tonne-plus building vehicles and lorries must have standard safety equipment installed in order to cut down the number of casualties on the road.
And in what has been one of the biggest and most controversial changes seen in recent years, later this year it will become illegal for people to smoke in cars where children are present. Details on the penalty for doing so are still to be detailed, but it's likely that we'll know nearer the time what drivers will face if they do this.
Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “This year has seen some of the biggest changes in motoring procedures we have ever seen. It is very important drivers and riders are fully up-to-date on what is happening – they will affect everyone in one way or another. So don’t get caught out, get informed.”
Posted by Danielle Barge