January 16th, 2020 at 9:59 am
As pressure grows internationally on governments to impose tougher legislation on motorists so they can hit their green carbon neutral targets, there has been a corresponding quiet revolution going on surrounding Artificial Intelligence in cars. New technology is revolutionising the driving experience and coupled with advancements in hybrid and electric vehicles, the motoring scene will totally transform within the next decade and lawmakers and legislators are intent on staying ahead of the curve. Here are some real-time and future developments that all motorists should be aware of for 2020 and beyond.
The government is keen to legislate for this vulnerable age group and the concept of a graduated driving licence is currently being discussed, essentially restrictions imposed on new drivers until they have been on the road for a certain length of time. These might include:-
- Restrictions on night driving or driving after dark which can be quite early in the winter months. Insurers behind the Black Box scheme used to impose this curfew on new drivers as a large majority of their accidents occur at night. Now, the government is thinking of actually enshrining this in law and keeping new motorists off the road in the dark hours for an initial, yet to be specified period after they have passed their test
- Passenger limits with a possible restriction on the age of the passengers to avoid the scenario of groups of young people all together in one car
- The green ‘P’ plates to be made mandatory for the first two years after passing a test – currently, they are optional
- Different and age group-specific speed limits
- Limits on engine size
- Lower alcohol limits than the current legal level
Intelligent Speed Assist
Many cars already incorporate Speed Assist Technology which can remind you of a change in the legal speed limit on a road as you pass a speed sign. Under EU regulations, Intelligent Speed Assist is a feature which will be mandatory in new cars from 2022 on the road safety platform. Cameras can already read the road signs but this new technology will now also place a restriction on the engine’s power so effectively, you cannot break the speed limit.
The government has adopted the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) six levels of automation ranging from 0 which is no automation to 5 which is full automation so basically, a self-driving vehicle. A lot of the car manufacturer’s are nibbling around the edges of this technology and cherry-picking certain features to add to their models and all in the name of safety. Some of these innovations include:-
- Cameras for reversing
- Internal warning systems to alert drivers who appear to be either drowsy or distracted
- Assistance with staying in the correct lane on a dual carriageway or motorway
LEZ, Low Emission Zone regulations
This year, in April 2019, London received a new Ultra Low Emission Zone or ULEZ in central London and this will be rolled out to all of inner London by 2021. In 2020, Birmingham is set to introduce a similar scheme alongside Leeds, Bristol, Cambridge, Newcastle and Edinburgh. In simple terms, all vehicles which drive within the ULEZ will have to pay a tax or toll – £12.50 for most vehicles but up to £100 for HGVs and small lorries – if they don’t meet new cleaner emission regulations. Older cars and diesel vehicles are the particular targets here. This is distinct from the Congestion Charge.
VED, Vehicle Excise Duty tax changes
For many years, VED has remained mostly static with some changes but never an annual increase. This year in April 2019, that changed as VED was linked to the Retail Prices Index or RPI and will now increase each year in line with inflation. This will apply to all cars with only pure EVs being exempt. Clearly, the perceived polluters will suffer the most in a bid to discourage diesel and older vehicles from being on the road especially those which cannot meet the RDE2 emissions standard which will become compulsory in 2020. For some reason, new car buyers will face an additional one-off first-year payment of £65 even though a new car is likely to be one of the least polluting on the road.
It looks like it will finally happen at the end of January and if the UK leaves in a no-deal scenario then this will impact on Brits driving in Europe. The current UK driving licence will no longer be valid so motorists will have to purchase an international permit at a cost of £5.50. If we leave with a deal then this is likely to be varied. You will also need to carry a green card issued by your motor insurer for car, caravan and trailer.
Cyclists on the highway
Cyclists have long been realised as being one of the most vulnerable of road user groups. A move is afoot to give cyclists more priority on the road at law. In 2017, 101 cyclists were killed in road traffic accidents across the UK. The Highway Code is vague about how drivers should react to cyclists and campaign groups think that now certain tenets should become enshrined in law, for example, drivers giving way to cyclists and pedestrians when they are turning left.
Another practice which is in sharp focus for campaign groups is using what is called, ‘the Dutch reach’ to open the car door. This means actually opening the door with your opposing hand rather than the hand closest to the door which for the driver means their right hand. By doing this, it makes it much harder to swing open the car door far enough and quickly enough to collide with either an unsuspecting cyclist or a pedestrian. The theory with the Dutch reach is that you have to partially turn the upper body in order to be able to reach the handle with the opposing hand at which point you can also see in the mirror whether it is clear to leave the vehicle as well as limiting how far you can actually open the door.