UK new driving laws, MOT changes and the driving test

If you are about to move to the UK, or already live there, you need to know about some new and recent changes to motoring laws…

UK driving laws, MOT, driving test

Vehicle MOTs

The annual Ministry of Transport (MOT) test, which all vehicles over 3 years of age must undergo, will change in May of this year.

  • There will be tougher emissions test for all diesel cars. Any vehicle that has a diesel particulate filter that looks as if it has been removed or tampered with will not pass unless there is proof it was removed for filter cleaning.
  • MOT ratings will change to ‘Dangerous; ‘Major’; and ‘Minor’. ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Major’ will result in an immediate test failure, while cars with a ‘Minor’ will pass but the fault(s) will be recorded.
  • From 28 May, a car that is more than 40 years old will not need an MOT (previously cars built before 1960 were exempt).
  • Some new items will be tested during the MOT. You can see them here on the official GOV.UK website.

Motorway driving

Proposals are under discussion that could make it illegal to drive in a motorway lane where the overhead sign shows a red cross, indicating the lane is closed, and for misuse of the hard shoulder. Watch that space!

Driving test

The following changes to the UK driving test came into force in December 2017:

Though the pass mark stays the same (no more than 15 minor faults allowed, and a serious or dangerous fault is still a fail), the independent driving section (when the driver has to drive without instruction to a chosen destination) during the test has increased from 10 to 20 minutes. During that part of the test, the examiner can decide if the student has to follow a Sat Nav or not, though, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency four out of five examiners are expected to ask the driver to use it. The Sat Nav will be provided by the examiner. So, it makes sense for learner drivers to get used to following one as soon as possible.

The driving exam will no longer include a ‘reverse around a corner’ or a ‘legal turn in the road’, instead the exam will include one of the following three parking manoeuvres:

  • parallel, at the side of the road;
  • in a bay, by driving in and reversing out, or reversing in and driving out;
  • or pull up on the right-hand side of the road, reverse for two car lengths, and then re-join the traffic.

The last manoeuvre has had examiners up in arms as it goes against the Highway Code, which says drivers must not park facing against the traffic flow.

Student drivers will be asked a safety related “tell me” question before the test begins – for example, how to find out the recommended air pressure for the tyres – and while the test is in progress – for example how to wash the windscreen while driving.

And finally, from 4 June 2018, learner drivers will be allowed to take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales. (About time too!) Currently, you can only have a motorway lesson after you have passed the driving test.