New road laws, rules and regulations are being introduced all the time. And as a driver, it’s important to make sure you’re aware and understand all of the changes, so you don’t get caught out.
To help you stay on top of the latest changes, here are the new road rules that UK drivers need to be aware of in 2023, and some you may have missed from 2022.
1. New number plates
For new vehicles, registration plates change twice a year. From 1 March, new vehicles will display ‘23’ as their third and fourth digits. And those taking to the road from 1 September will display ‘73’.
In addition, number plates will have to conform to lettering standards introduced in 2022. All number plates must now have solid black lettering, as some two-tone number plates were being used to avoid detection by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.
2. Fuel duty to return to normal?
From March 2022, fuel duty rates were cut by 5p per litre. This cut was to help with the soaring price of fuel and cost of living, with the reduction in place for a year.
This means that the price is due to return to normal in March 2023.
There has been some speculation that duty could increase by as much as 12p per litre. However, until the government outlines its plan for fuel duty – most likely in the Spring 2023 Budget – there’s a question mark over how much UK motorists are likely to be paying.
So this is one to watch.
3. Extension of London’s Ultra Low Emission Scheme
The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London currently covers the areas within the North and South Circular Roads. Those with vehicles that don’t meet the emissions standards must pay a £12.50 fee each time they pass through the zone. This is intended to improve air quality by putting off drivers that have the most pollutant vehicles.
To take this a step further, on 29 August 2023, the ULEZ will be extended to all 33 boroughs in London. The zone applies to cars, motorbikes, vans and specialist vehicles up to and including 3.5 tonnes, plus minibuses up to and including 5 tonnes.
While this is likely to affect thousands of drivers and bikers, it’s hoped that it will encourage people to use public transport more, or switch to a greener vehicle.
4. Levy payment for heavy goods vehicles (HGV)
If you drive a HGV weighing over 12 tonnes for work, you’ll probably know that the levy to cover damage caused to the roads was suspended during the pandemic. However, from August 2023, this levy payment will be reinstated.
5. Scottish pavement parking ban
If vehicles are parked on pavements, they’re often difficult or impossible to use for wheelchair users, people with mobility scooters, and those with pushchairs or prams.
Since 1974, it has been illegal to park partially or wholly on the pavement in London. And while Highway Code rule 244 states that you “should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it”, this is advisory, not mandatory.
Plans to ban vehicles from parking on pavements and dropped kerbs were drawn up in Scotland in 2019, but delayed due to the pandemic. The provisions also ban double parking, and give local authorities greater powers to enforce these rules.
The ban is now expected to be enacted this year, pending confirmation. This means Scotland is the first country of the UK to join London in such a ban, with other areas expected to join suit in future.
Other changes from 2022 you may have missed:
Benefit in Kind (BIK) rates
If you drive a company car which you also drive for private use, then you’re likely to pay Benefit in Kind (BIK), which is a tax for employees who receive perks on top of their salary.
Also known as company car tax, this is a percentage contribution made according to the car’s banding. A petrol car which with 100g/km of emissions pays 25% BIK, for instance; whereas the highest polluting petrol and diesel vehicles – emitting over 160g/km – are taxed at 37%.
By contrast, electric or hybrid vehicles which emit less than 50g/km are taxed at a rate of 2%. In the Autumn Statement, these figures were frozen by the government until 2025, in the hopes that more employees choose greener vehicles as their company cars.
Tax will now apply to electric cars
While electric vehicles (EVs) were previously exempt from paying vehicle excise duty (also known as road tax), owners will need to start paying from 2025. They will be paying the lowest bracket to begin with, although this is expected to start rising from 2026, when it’s predicted that 50% of new cars will be electric.