Driving law changes set to launch in 2023 including ULEZ expansion

Mike Graham fumes over ULEZ extension

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This past year has seen countless driving law changes introduced from a major overhaul of the Highway Code to the spread of Clean Air Zones and Low Emission Zones across the UK. 2023 will be no different, with a number of new rules already announced, with many more set to follow over the coming 12 months.

ULEZ and Clean Air Zones

Later this year, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be expanded to include all of the capital on Tuesday, August 29, 2023.

It will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year (apart from Christmas Day) and will operate across all London boroughs, up to the current Low Emission Zone boundary.

Vehicles must meet strict emission standards to drive in the ULEZ including Euro 4 petrol and Euro 6 for diesel. Motorcycles and mopeds must adhere to the Euro 3 emissions standards, with any non-compliant vehicle facing the £12.50 daily fee.

New Clean Air Zones will also be launching in the new year with Manchester, Tyneside and Sheffield all launching new emissions zones.

While the Tyneside (Newcastle and Gateshead) CAZ was launched in October 2022, charges are being introduced on January 30.

Sheffield’s CAZ will begin charging from Monday, February 27, with the most HGVs, LGVs, vans, buses, coaches and taxi’s being charged between £10 and £50 per day.

Greater Manchester was supposed to launch its CAZ in May 2022, but disputes over compliant vehicles halted the plans. The Greater Manchester Authority claims it is still waiting for Government feedback.

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Driving licences

The Department for Transport (DfT) is implementing new legislation for tachographs in line with requirements under the EU Drivers’ Hours regime.

A smart tachograph 2 will need to be installed and used in vehicles registered for the first time on or after August 21, 2023.  

There are concerns around the supply of smart tachograph 2 but the European Commission is confident that any supply issues will be resolved ahead of the August 2023 date. The Department for Transport said it will monitor the situation closely. 

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Speed limits

From September 17, 2023, drivers will see speed limits on most restricted roads in Wales being cut from 30mph to 20mph.

Wales will be one of the first countries in the world and the first nation in the UK to introduce legislation to have a 20mph speed limit on roads where cars mix with pedestrians and cyclists. 

Restricted roads include street lights placed no more than 200 yards apart. They are usually located in residential and built-up areas with high pedestrian activity.

Driving in Europe

Since May 2022, Britons living in Spain have been banned from using their UK driving licences on Spanish roads, much to the dismay of expats.

In the latest update to the Brits in Spain Facebook page, Hugh Elliott, Ambassador of the UK to Spain, said the agreement between British and Spanish authorities was done, with “technical wording” still being resolved.

He said that both sides would continue to work together to get the agreement signed, adding that he would share more information on the consulate’s page as soon as he knew it.

Fuel duty

Rishi Sunak, who was Chancellor at the time, announced a 5p per litre fuel duty cut during the Spring Statement which was to last 12 months.

With Jeremy Hunt’s March Budget a few months away, many are looking at what the Chancellor chooses to do. He could continue the 5p cut, allow it to expire and return to the normal rate or increase fuel duty.

The Office for Budget Responsibility suggested that fuel duty may increase by 23 percent, which would add £5.7billion to Government coffers next year, but hammer drivers.

Highway Code 

2022 saw countless new Highway Code rules introduced in one of the largest updates in recent history, including mobile phone rules and new guidance for all road users.

Some speculated that new rules would be introduced in 2023, with some updates to the “hierarchy of road users” or new punishments for not wearing seatbelts.

The Department for Transport told Express.co.uk that nothing new had been announced since the latest version was published earlier this year.

HGV levy

All heavy goods vehicles that weigh over 12 tonnes have to pay a levy cost for the wear and tear on the roads.

The Government suspended the levy during the pandemic, but from July 31, 2023, charges will begin to apply again. The cost can be as much as £10 a day or £1,000 a year.

UK registered vehicles pay levy costs at the same time and in the same transaction as vehicle excise duty (VED).

Number plates

Drivers in the UK will again see two new sets of number plates in March and September 2023.

In March, motorists can register a new car under the “23” number plate and new cars in September will be registered under the “73” plate.

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