17 new driving laws for 2022

If you’ve been driving for a while, it might come as a shock to discover that several of your old motoring habits could now land you in legal trouble!
But if you ignore forthcoming changes to traffic and motoring regulations, you could be slapped with a fine and points on your licence. Some more serious mistakes could even see your motor seized, meaning you might have to take out impounded car insurance to get it back.
To help you stay on the right side of the law, we’ve put together this list of 17 changes to rules around vehicles and driving that will – or might – come into force in 2022.

So park up, switch off your engine, or sit down at home, and take a moment to read through our guide.

1. Know your place in the new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’

This one’s already been causing controversy! From late January 2022, there have been several key changes to the Highway Code, many of which fall under this heading.
Essentially, the Hierarchy of Road Users introduces a new principle to the Code: those vehicle drivers which have the potential to cause the most harm also bear the biggest responsibility to reduce the risk they pose to others. 
So vulnerable pedestrians such as children will be given most priority, and HGVs will have to take the most care. If you’re a car driver, you’ll need to be especially considerate around cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians.
Of course, wherever you are in the hierarchy, you still need to behave sensibly.
There are several new rules stemming from this hierarchy, so let’s take a quick look at them now. You could also read our recent blog for a more detailed guide to the recent changes to the Highway Code
Remember: throughout the Highway Code, if it says you “must/ must not” do something, it’s an offence to disobey, and could land you with a fine or points on your licence, even if nobody’s hurt. If it says “should/ should not”, or “do/ do not”, then disobeying that rule isn’t an offence in itself – but if there’s an accident, it could be used to establish your liability in court.

2. Give way to pedestrians at junctions and zebra crossings

You probably know that if a pedestrian is already crossing a road you want to turn into, you should wait until they’re safely across.
So what’s new? From now on, at junctions with no signals, you should also give way to pedestrians or cyclists who are waiting to cross a road into or from which you are turning.
The same is true of those at zebra or parallel crossings – in fact, you should look out for those approaching the crossing, too. They’ve got priority.

3. Think safety when using your lights or horn

Don’t flash your lights or beep your horn to let pedestrians or cyclists know you’re allowing them across! It may seem like a courteous thing to do, but it can send confusing and dangerous signals to other road users. So just wait patiently until it’s time to move off safely again.
Of course, patience is an essential quality for safe driving in every scenario. So the next time you’re feeling impatient while stuck in traffic, just take a deep breath and remind yourself how awful it would be to cause an accident through reckless behaviour.
Even if nobody was hurt, you could find your vehicle seized by police – and getting it back is a process that would test the patience of any driver. It involves paying fees and producing documents including impounded car insurance – and that’s just for starters. Best avoided.

4. Stay clear of cyclists and horse riders

You should also give bike and horse riders extra space at roundabouts and junctions.
Rule 186 of the revised Highway Code says:

 “You should give priority to cyclists on the roundabout. They will be travelling more slowly than motorised traffic. Give them plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane. Allow them to move across your path as they travel around the roundabout.
Cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles may stay in the left-hand lane when they intend to continue across or around the roundabout and should signal right to show you they are not leaving the roundabout. Drivers should take extra care when entering a roundabout to ensure that they do not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles in the left-hand lane, who are continuing around the roundabout.”
Also, if you’re turning at a junction, take extra care not to cut up riders who are going straight ahead. Again, just wait patiently until the junction is clear for you to make your turn.

5. Overtake with room to spare

If you want to overtake a car, horse or pedestrian on the road, you need to give them plenty of space. The previous version of the Highway Code recommended giving at least as much room as you would to a car, but that’s now been updated.
The new rules state: at least 1.5 metres for a bike, and two for a horse or pedestrian (i.e. a person walking on a road with no pavement). If there’s not enough room, you should wait. Yes, it really does pay to be patient when driving.
Many of these changes are essentially just good driving practice, which careful motorists are already doing.
Make sure you’re one of them, as failure to drive in a manner that’s considerate of other road users, especially more vulnerable ones, can easily lead to an accident. Even if nobody’s seriously hurt, you’ll be in trouble and the police could seize your vehicle. At Insurance Factory, we provide impounded car insurance to help you get it back.

6. Go Dutch when opening your driver door

Have you heard of the ‘Dutch Reach’? If not, you don’t need to go to Amsterdam to find out what it is.
The Dutch Reach is a simple manoeuvre, popularised in the Netherlands, aimed at reducing the risk of opening doors on a parked car into traffic. All you need to do is open your door with the opposite hand – so in the driver’s seat of a right-hand drive vehicle, you’d use your left hand.
That swivels your body round, so you’ve got a better view of the road. You’ll spot any cyclists or other traffic that are coming up behind you, and can wait until they pass before pushing open your door.
It really does work, which is why it’s now enshrined in the updated Highway Code.
Now, let’s move onto some other traffic laws that are changing in 2022.

7. Stay safe by switching off your mobile phone

Somewhat incredibly, while it’s long been an offence to make a call from your mobile while driving (unless it’s entirely hands-free), there’s been no rule banning other uses, i.e. taking photos.
This was an oversight on the part of lawmakers, and the loophole has been closed. So no more selecting songs or playing games while you’re behind the wheel – even if you’re stopped at a red light. You’ll be liable for a £200 fixed penalty plus six points on your licence.
Remember: it’s easy to accrue points on your licence, and end up being disqualified for making a series of silly mistakes. It may be annoying, but it’s the law.
And if you fail to pay your fines, your car could be seized and impounded. It’s a hassle to get it back: you’ll have to travel to the pound with a range of documents, including proof of impounded car insurance. Then you’ll need to pay fees and fines before you’re allowed to drive your vehicle away – if, of course, you’re still allowed to drive. If not, you’ll have to get a friend or family member to do so for you.

8. Look out for a pavement parking ban

The issue of pavement parking is a real dilemma. On the one hand, you need to keep traffic flowing freely on narrow streets – particularly if the emergency services need access. On the other, you need to allow room for pedestrians, including people in wheelchairs or those pushing prams.
Pavement parking is already banned in London, unless there are clearly painted bays straddling the road and the pavement in place. Scotland has also voted to ban the practice, though it hasn’t yet implemented this.
In 2020, the government consulted on options that could see new limits on pavement parking elsewhere in the UK. It’s not yet clear what the outcome will be, but changes could come into force this year.
One thing hasn’t changed: if you park your vehicle in a way that’s a hazard to others, or causes an obstruction, you might well return to find it’s been removed. Cue one lengthy trip to the pound, during which you’ll have to provide a heap of paperwork, including impounded car insurance documentation.

9. Wider powers for local councils

 You might be reading through this list of new rules wondering how on earth the police will find time to enforce them all.
Well, from May, local councils will be able to apply to the Department for Transport for powers to issue penalty charge notices (PCNs) for minor traffic offences, i.e. driving in cycle lanes or stopping unlawfully in box junctions. Up until now, only the authorities in Cardiff and London have had these powers.
PCNs differ from fixed penalty notices (FPNs): if you’re issued with one, you won’t get a criminal record or points on your licence. Instead, you’ll be given a fine of up to £70 (or £130 in London), which is often halved if you pay it quickly.
Remember – if you accrue enough unpaid fines, you risk having your vehicle seized. Getting it back is a hassle: you’ll have to pay the fines and admin fees, as well as prove that you’ve got impounded car insurance.


10. Zone in on CAZ, ZEZ and LEZ

 A clean air zone (CAZ) is designed to reduce air pollution in city centres. Vehicles which exceed certain emissions limits have to pay a charge to enter a restricted area.
Each CAZ falls into a category from A to D, where A is the least restrictive. Check before you drive to see if your vehicle is subject to the CAZ, and find out how to pay the charge if it is.
In 2021, Bath became the first UK city outside London to implement a CAZ, with Birmingham and Portsmouth following suit.
This year, Bradford is introducing one in spring 2022, and Bristol’s is expected to launch in September. Oxford is introducing a pilot zero emissions zone (ZEZ) in late February 2022, though it covers only a few city centre streets.
In Scotland, low-emission zones (LEZ) are being rolled out this year, too. Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen are all hoping to introduce their schemes in mid-2022, with a two-year grace period during which they won’t be enforced.
There’s no such grace period for the English schemes, and you face hefty fines if you drive a restricted vehicle into a CAZ without paying the charge.
If you’re a regular visitor, such fines could quickly add up. Did you know that failure to pay them could lead to court action against you, and your vehicle being seized? If this happens to you, contact the Insurance Factory for impounded car insurance.

11. Look out for further CAZs

 Several more cities are currently reviewing their air quality, consulting on ways to improve it, and drawing up plans to restrict polluting vehicles in central areas.
Greater Manchester had been due to introduce a CAZ in 2022, but is now reviewing its plans. Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield are all in the process of agreeing schemes, which could begin in 2022.

12. Let your car help you stick to speed limits

 From July 2022, all new vehicles sold in the EU must be fitted with speed limiters. The UK will follow suit even though we have left the EU.
So what are speed limiters? Basically, they’re safety devices that use technology called Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) to read traffic signs or pick up GPS data about speed limits. If you’re in danger of going over the limit, they will warn you with visual or audio cues. Some models may reduce the engine’s propulsion power, or push the accelerator pedal back under the driver’s foot.
Speed limiters can be switched off or overridden by the driver. But it remains your responsibility to stick within speed limits at all times – the ISA is just there to assist you.
So if you’re the type of driver who regularly drifts over the limit unintentionally, then speed limiters are very handy devices indeed. They could save you a few fines and penalty points.
At Insurance Factory, we know that it’s common for well-meaning drivers to pick up a series of endorsements due to simple errors or minor lapses of concentration. We never judge our customers – we simply help them get back on the road safely by providing convicted driver or impounded car insurance.

13. ‘Self-driving’ cars could take to the roads

 Speed limiters are just one of the technologies that are moving us closer to an era of self-driving cars.
Last year, the Department for Transport gave the go-ahead for automated lane-keeping systems (ALKS) to be legalised, allowing hands-free driving at speeds of up to 37 mph. And 2022 is likely to be the year that the first of these make their appearance on the UK’s road network.
However, it’s important to note that drivers must be ready to take charge of such vehicles at a moment’s notice. So they’re only self-driving in a very limited sense, and for very specific scenarios.
But with technology advancing at a dizzying rate, it does seem that driverless cars will be the transport of the future. Exciting times!

14. The red light for new smart motorways

 But there’s another form of technology that the government’s putting the brakes on: smart motorways.
It’s decided to pause the rollout of the all lane running (ALR) smart motorway scheme until there are five years of safety data to analyse.
So if you’re one of the many motorists who finds all those Xs above lanes perplexing, or gets confused about whether you’re allowed to drive on the hard shoulder, it’s good news for now.
And on existing smart motorways with no permanent hard shoulder, there are plans afoot to create additional emergency areas where drivers can stop if they get into difficulties.

15. Expanding the EV charging network

 It’s been good and bad news for electric vehicle (EV) expansion in recent months.
On the one hand, the government cut its grants for those buying new vehicles. But on the other, PM Boris Johnson has announced that from 2022, all new homes in England and Wales must have EV charge points fitted. This rule also covers new-build supermarkets and workplaces, as well as buildings undergoing major renovations.
The government calculates that it will add around 145,000 charge points to the network every year, making it easier to switch to an EV before the ban on sales of new diesel and petrol vehicles comes into force in 2030.

16. Ban on red diesel and rebated biofuels

 This is a change that will mainly affect companies in certain sectors, rather than individuals.
Up until now, many industries have used off-road vehicles which run on red diesel or other fuels that are subject to a hefty tax rebate. But the government has announced that from April 2022, in a bid to meet national environmental targets, usage of these rebated fuels will be heavily restricted.
Some sectors will still be able to access red diesel legally, notably the agricultural and rail industries. But others, such as construction companies, will need to purchase regular white or road diesel, which is heavily taxed.
You can check your entitlement to use red diesel at the government’s web pages.

17. New rules around trailer towing

 OK, this is a cheeky extra, because this change actually came into force on 16th December 2021. But perhaps you had better things to do in the run-up to Christmas than read up on new towing regulations!
Under the new law, if you passed your driving test after January 1997, you’re now allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg maximum authorised mass (MAM) without passing an additional test.
Those who passed their driving tests before this date were already permitted to do so.
You should still check your car’s handbook to find out its gross train weight (GTW): the total allowable weight of your car plus trailer plus load.
And if you’ve never towed a trailer before, it’s wise to get extra lessons to help you adjust. It can feel quite different from regular driving, and there are a few new techniques you need to learn.
If police think you’re driving carelessly or dangerously, they could pull you over. In certain scenarios, they might even seize your vehicle and impound it. Contact us at Insurance Factory for impounded car insurance to help recover your vehicle.

Get a quote from Insurance Factory

 As a driver, it’s always your responsibility to keep up to date with changing legislation. Yet it can be tricky to keep on top of it all.
At Insurance Factory, we know how easy it is to make a driving or parking error and end up with your vehicle in the pound. So we don’t judge people who contact us seeking impounded car insurance – we just help them out.
To drive your car away from the pound, you’ll need to prove you’re insured. Yet often, regular car cover won’t be valid for impounded vehicles.
Instead, an impounded car insurance policy will cover you to drive your vehicle away from the pound and for the next 28 days, giving you time to get your affairs in order.
Contact us now for a quote.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.