5 Recent Highway Code Changes You Should Be Aware Of

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10 April 2019

5 Recent Highway Code Changes You Should Be Aware Of

Does it seem strange to you that once we’ve passed our driving test, we’re never expected to attend training or sit an exam ever again? Assuming our driving career is free of any major event, we might drive for 60 years without ever again being called upon to prove our knowledge of the road.


Whilst I don’t intend to make a case for increased testing, it’s surely interesting that those of us responsible for driving a vehicle capable of causing such great harm are mostly ‘left to it’ as far as our driving education is concerned. 


For any number of obvious reasons it’s in our interests to keep up to speed with the latest laws in this area. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the rules of the road don’t change, but the pace of technological change and sheer volume of traffic means the Highway Code is an ever-evolving rulebook.


Here are just 5 of the changes made to the Highway Code in the last 5 years alone. For a full list, and to access the code in full, follow this link

-          From 4 June 2018 provisional licence holders may drive on the motorway if they are accompanied by an approved driving instructor and are driving a car displaying red L plates (D plates in Wales), that’s fitted with dual controls. So no longer will newly qualified drivers experience the sheer terror of driving on the motorway for the first time, alone, having just passed their test!


-          From 1st March 2017, the penalty for using a hand-held mobile phone when driving rose from 3 points to 6, and a £200 fine.


-          From 1st October 2015 – a new rule was introduced whereby you MUST NOT smoke in a private vehicle carrying under 18s. That means it’s now illegal for you to smoke in your own car if children are present. Convertible cars are an exception to this rule. 


-          On the 2nd March 2015, it was written into law that you MUST NOT drive if you have illegal drugs or certain medicines in your blood above specified limits. Note; this includes a number of prescription drugs, at levels above normal prescription doses. The full list of drugs and legal levels is here


-          From 5th December 2014: Scotland enforced a lowered legal drink driving limit. You MUST NOT drive with a breath alcohol level higher than 22 microgrammes/100 millilitres of breath or a blood alcohol level of more than 50 milligrammes/100 millilitres of blood. This compares to 35 microgrammes and 80 milligrammes respectively in England and Wales


So there you go, 5 significant changes in the last 5 years. Now, given the current pace of technological change, you might be wondering how things will change over the next 5. It was widely reported in February this year that so-called ‘driverless cars’ could be tested on UK roads by the end of this year,  and It’s already written into law that you may park your vehicle using a hand-held remote control app or device. Watch this space!  



Narinder Singh Rathour