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2022’s new driving laws – what do letting agents need to know?

Posted by on January 20, 2022

For many letting agents, cars can be an essential part of their business – from a reliable mode of transport, ensuring you’re on time to appointments and viewings, to an effective branding and advertising tool.

With all the rules and regulations surrounding the private rental sector, it’s unsurprising that it’s not always everyone’s top priority to stay up-to-date with new driving laws and updates to the Highway Code.

So, what has recently changed, and what could change this year?

Low emission zones

Low emission zones or clean air zones are areas where all vehicles must meet a set of emissions standards or pay a daily charge to drive within the area. It is hoped that the daily charges will encourage people to consider investing in electric vehicles.

After London expanded its zone in October 2021, more low emission zones will be introduced in cities around the UK this year.

Manchester will introduce its clean air zone on the 30th of May, with Bradford’s expected to go live in spring. However, the first phase of these should only affect buses, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles.

In February, Oxford will introduce a zero-emission zone, meaning that all petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles will have to pay a daily charge to drive in the city centre.

With the Government’s focus on hitting their net-zero emissions target by 2050, more low and zero-emission zones are expected to be introduced around the UK.

Electric car grant cut

Despite this push towards electric vehicles, the Government’s electric car grant has been reduced from £2,500 to £1,000, meaning that drivers who wish to replace their petrol or diesel car with an electric vehicle will receive less support to do so.

The grant can now be used on cars purchased for up to £32,000, rather than the previous figure of £35,000.

Use of mobile phones when driving

Although it was already illegal to text or make calls whilst driving, the Government is strengthening the existing law, making it illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving under virtually any circumstance.

Taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists, and playing games will now also be explicitly outlawed.

Anyone caught using a hand-held device whilst driving will face a £200 fine and six points on their license, and it is important to note that the rule still applies when stopped at a red light.

Highway Code changes

The new rules in the updated Highway Code will come into force at the end of January.

The main focus is to improve the safety of more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, meaning that drivers now have added responsibilities to reduce the risk of danger.

  • When turning into or out of a road, drivers should stop to let pedestrians cross
  • When overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30MPH, drivers must leave at least 1.5 meters and more space if driving faster.
  • Drivers will be required to give priority to cyclists in more situations and should stop and wait for a safe gap when cyclists are approaching or passing a junction.

Parking on pavements

Scotland has enacted a bill to outlaw parking on pavements from 2023, a rule already in place in London.

At some point this year, it is expected to be made illegal in England and Wales, so agents will have to plan accordingly when attending viewings at properties with no parking.

When the rule is brought in, councils will be able to hand out £70 fines to any offenders.

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