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New driving laws for 2024: what business owners need to know

4-minute read

New driving laws UK 2023
Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith

3 January 2024

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The government often introduces new driving laws to improve road safety. It’s important to know what’s changed, and what to expect in the future, so you’re not caught out by unexpected fines and penalty points.

7 driving laws for 2024 you should know about

If you use a vehicle for work, here are seven new driving laws for 2024 – from low emission schemes and 20mph zones to new rules for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and a crackdown on pavement parking.

1. Will there be more clean air zones?

Clean air zones, which aim to reduce emissions from high polluting vehicles, have been making headlines for several years now.

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was expanded in August 2023 to cover all 32 London boroughs.

Since the expansion, just five per cent of vehicles driven in London are non-compliant with ULEZ, according to Transport for London (TfL). Figures show that by the end of November 2023, TfL had issued almost 3,500 fines to drivers of older, polluting vehicles.

As well as in the capital, there are also clean air zones in a range of UK cities including Birmingham, Newcastle, and Sheffield.

Plans to launch a clean air zone in Manchester were scrapped in 2022. However, the area is reported to have levels of pollution that are higher than legally permitted. This means the local authority has agreed with the government to come up with an alternative plan to reduce emissions, which we could hear more about in 2024.

In Oxford, there’s a pilot ‘Zero Emissions Zone’ on nine streets in the city centre. If it’s judged to have been successful, a scheme covering a larger area of the city could be rolled out soon.

On top of this, enforcement of existing low emissions zones in Scottish cities will start on the following dates:

  • 30 May 2024 – Dundee
  • 1 June 2024 – Aberdeen and Edinburgh

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2. Zero emission vehicle mandate becomes law

On 3 January 2023, the government launched its zero emission mandate. This means that by 2030, 80 per cent of new cars and 70 per cent of new vans sold in Britain will be zero emission, increasing to 100 per cent by 2035.

The government has described the mandate as ‘the most ambitious regulatory framework for the switch to electric vehicles’ in the world.

Alongside the new regulations, over £2 billion has been invested into improving charging infrastructure and incentivising electric vehicle ownership.

According to the government, this has led to the national charging network growing by 44 per cent since January 2023 and electric vehicles accounting for 16 per cent of the new car market in the UK.

Electric vehicles incentives for business owners include the plug-in van grant, which offers up to £2,500 for small vans and £5,000 for large vans until 2025.

Last year, as part of the Green Review, Prime Minister Rishi Sunk pushed the back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035.

3. What is the government’s plan for drivers?

Launched in October 2023, the government’s plan for drivers aims to ‘put drivers back in the driving seat’.

The 30-point plan says it will ‘support people’s freedom to use their cars and curb overzealous enforcement measures’.

Some of the most significant measures that could affect people who drive for work include:

  • new guidance for 20mph zones in England to prevent blanket use
  • stronger guidance on enforcement of traffic offences (such as entering yellow box junctions) to reduce unfair penalties
  • a consultation on removing the right of uninsured drivers to claim compensation for property damage
  • the introduction of more lane rental schemes, which are designed to reduce roadworks

When it comes to parking, a new National Parking Platform is due to be launched by autumn 2024. This scheme will stop drivers needing to use multiple parking apps. There will also be digital traffic regulation orders to make it easier to identify where it’s legal to park anywhere in the country.

The plan includes £70 million of funding to improve traffic signal systems, with the aim of improving traffic flow in busy areas.

You can read the plan for drivers in full on the government website.

4. Changes to electric vehicle tax exemptions on the way

Drivers of electric vehicles currently don’t pay road tax, but the rules are set to change in the coming years.

A zero per cent rate of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for electric vehicles will continue in 2024.

However from April 2025, drivers of electric cars, vans, and motorcycles will pay a £10 fee. The following year this will rise to the standard annual rate of VED, which is £165.

In London, electric vehicles will remain exempt from the Congestion Charge until December 2025.

Considering buying an electric vehicle? Read our guide to electric cars and vans for business owners.

Electric car charging at home
Photograph: Graham King/stock.adobe.com

5. New rules for HGV drivers in London

Drivers of heavy goods vehicles in London will soon have to meet new safety rules.

Transport for London is set to introduce a Direct Vision Standard (DVS) and safety permit scheme that will be mandatory for HGV drivers in certain areas.

From 28 October 2024, HGVs will need either a three-star rating or have a ‘progressive Safe System’ to avoid penalty charges in parts of Greater London.

Read more about TfL’s plans for HGVs.

6. Increased enforcement of 20mph zones in Wales

The Welsh Highway Code was updated in September 2023 to introduce a default 20mph speed limit on restricted roads.

Drivers in Wales will need to take more care during 2024 as from December 2023 enforcement of speeding rules has increased.

Anyone caught driving 26mph or above the 20mph speed limit in a residential area could receive a fine.

Wales was the first UK nation to reduce the default speed limit, with Scotland set to do the same in 2025.

7. New fines for pavement parking in Scotland

In 2024, drivers in Scotland will need to be more careful when it comes to pavement parking, which has been described by the Minister for Transport as “unsafe, unfair and illegal”.

From December 2023, local authorities have begun enforcing laws to crack down on parking at dropped kerbs and double parking.

Drivers found to have pavement parked could be hit with a £100 fine.

What else do business drivers need to be aware of in 2024?

As well as new driving laws, here are some other road issues to consider over the coming months:

  • fuel duty has been frozen since 2011 – we’ll find out if that will continue in the upcoming Spring Budget
  • almost £9 billion has been pledged to the “scourge of potholes” in England
  • fuel forecourt prices in 2023 were the second highest on record, beaten only by 2022

Have you heard about any other new driving rules for 2024? Let us know in the comments below.

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Photo: PoppyPix/stock.adobe.com
Catriona Smith

Written by

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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