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Changes to the law for drivers in 2022

Motorists asked to brush up on the Highway Code as new changes come into effect on 29th January 2022

Motoring offences or prosecutions

What are the significant changes affecting drivers in 2022?



Changes to road laws are planned to come into effect from 29th January 2022, so motorists are being asked to brush up on the Highway Code.

Firmer rules around mobile phone use when driving

UK drivers will find there are new rules this year when it comes to using hand-held devices whilst driving. This will be welcome news for many and goes some way towards making our roads a safer place for all road users. These changes to the law include stricter rules on mobile phone usage when driving such as:

·        It will become an offence to take photos and videos

·        Select a song on your playlist

·        Play games on your phone, even if you are stopped at a red light

Failing to observe this rule could cost you a £200 fixed penalty fine and six points on your licence.


If you have your phone on a hands-free device, then you will still be allowed to use it as a sat nav.


As ever, the challenge comes back to both education and enforcement. Many drivers have ingrained habits when behind the wheel and unfortunately some don’t hesitate to check their phones, often below the line of sight for any passing police officer to notice.


Changes to priorities at junctions

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: "The changed guidance relating to the priority to be given at junctions has the potential to be confusing.”


The aim of the changes is to protect road users, especially the most vulnerable — like cyclists and pedestrians.


Priorities for pedestrians – under the new rules drivers at a junction should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which they are turning.


You should give way, the government says, “to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing.”


The law previously said that pedestrians and cyclists only had right of way when they were on the crossing.


Priorities for cyclists or horses - means that someone driving will need to have responsibility to watch out for people cycling, walking or riding a horse, and cyclists will have more responsibility to be aware of pedestrians.


At junctions, drivers will have to ensure they do not cross the path of cyclists or horse riders.


Changes to over taking cyclists

Another change to the Highway Code will be clearer guidance for drivers to leave a minimum distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph (more distance should be provided at higher speeds).


Opening your card door at the roadside

Drivers should also open car doors using the “Dutch reach” method – with the hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. This makes drivers turn their heads to look over their shoulders and reduces the likelihood of hitting a passing cyclist with the door.

Tired drivers risk fines

Drivers could be jailed or face unlimited fines if they don't get enough sleep under the new Highway Code rules.


The altered Rule 91 falls within the fitness to drive category and refers to ensuring drivers get 'sufficient sleep'.


However, under the tightened-up rules, tired drivers have also been told they shouldn't use emergency areas or motorway hard shoulders to take a break. Drivers who stop on the hard shoulder face a fine of up to £5,000, nine penalty points and a lengthy driving ban for careless driving if they cause an accident.




New fines from councils

Local authorities are being given more powers to issue £70 fines against drivers. Under 'moving traffic' offences, councils will be able to punish drivers for stopping in yellow box junctions and for performing bad manoeuvres.


Currently, most councils are only able to send out penalties for parking and driving in bus lanes.


New car manufacturing regulations

From 6th July 2022, all new cars will have to have speed limiters installed, which will cap vehicles' top speeds. Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) uses GPS to work out what the speed limit is and will then ensure the car doesn't break it.


Proposed by the European Commission in the General Safety Regulation it was passed into law by the European Parliament in 2019.


The UK is still likely to adhere to the rules despite Brexit, with it having kept most laws for new cars.


While all these changes will surely improve overall safety on the road, particularly for the more vulnerable road users, we now need to see a sustained effort to educate drivers of these changes as well as tough enforcement from the police.


If you find yourself at risk of prosecution involving any driving related offence you should seek the advice of a specialist motoring lawyer, so that they can advise you on the appropriate strategy and provide effective representation at each stage of the proceedings. You can search for a solicitor who deals with traffic law by searching our site for free, and without providing your personal data.