Driving law changes of 2018: What we know so far

Get up-to-date with all you need to know about 2018's driving law changes

The last 12 months saw plenty of driving law changes. Car tax, mobile phone penalties and alterations to the practical driving test were just some of the updates. And 2018 looks set to continue the trend…

Tax hike for all newly registered diesel cars

From April this year, Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for diesel cars that don’t meet the latest emission standards will go up by one band, and could cost drivers of the worst gas-guzzlers up to £500 extra every year.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Autumn budget that the changes will come into effect to fund a new £220 million Clean Air Fund.

He said: “From April 2018 the first year VED rate for diesel cars that don’t meet the latest standards will go up by one band and the existing diesel supplement in Company Car Tax will increase by 1%.

“Drivers buying a new car will be able to avoid this charge as soon as manufacturers bring forward the next-generation cleaner diesels that we all want to see.”

Drivers of white vans will not be hit by the measures, the chancellor stated.

Ignoring smart motorway lane closures

From March this year, any drivers who ignore the big red X on smart motorways could see themselves landed with a fine.

According to the Press Association, cameras that detect lane violations are “currently being tested by the Home Office”, and will see motorists who flout the warnings issued with a penalty.

Highways England says from spring, a £100 fine and three points will be applied to those driving licences of those flouting the rules– the same penalty for driving through a red light.

The roads agency says since December 2016 it has issued around 80,000 letters to drivers who have ignored smart motorway warnings. A third of these relate to driving in closed lanes.

A Highways England spokesman says: “We close lanes for a reason and drivers ignoring red Xs puts themselves and others at risk.

“Since we started issuing warning letters we have seen a decrease in the number of drivers ignoring lane closures.”

MOT changes for classic cars

Vintage vehicle enthusiasts have an expensive hobby. But this pastime is about to get a little less expensive in 2018 with changes to the yearly roadworthiness test

As of 20th May, most vehicles manufactured or first registered more than 40 years ago will be exempt from having to undergo the annual Ministry of Transport test (MOT).

A spokesman for the Department for Transport told consumer site Honest John: “Most vehicles manufactured or first registered over 40 years ago will, as of 20th May 2018, be exempt from periodic testing – unless they have been substantially changed.”

This means vehicles that have only had light modifications carried out, or those that have been refurbished to an identical specification, will still be exempt from testing.

For instance, replacement chassis, monocoque body shells or subframes made from the same patterns are not considered to be “substantially changed”. However, if the body of the car has been largely changed from the original spec, then this would require an annual test.

Cars that have had a new engine can also be exempt, providing the alteration is made using the same “alternative original equipment engines”, according to guidance.  This also applies to “alternative cubic capacities of the same basic engine,” the Government has said.

Nonexempt vehicles
To avoid confusion the Government has issued guidance on certain vehicles that will not be exempt from the annual roadworthiness test, including:

  • Reconstructed classics – vehicles made up of period components from a variety of other vehicle types
  • Kit cars assembled from more than one vehicle
  • Kit conversions – where new kit parts are added to an existing vehicle
  • Q-reg vehicles those where their age or identity is in question
  • Large goods vehicles – over 3.5 tonnes
  • Buses and minibuses – those with more than eight seats

Drivers who ignore the rules of the road can be fined, issued with a penalty, or in some cases prosecuted – carrying heavier sentences. Brush up your knowledge with our complete guide to 2017 motoring law changes.


  1. Istvan David says:

    Bloody petrol headed idiots The petrol it’s more dangerous than disel but probably a petrol headet idiot seats in the parlament.
    Few years ago the petrol was the bad guy now it’s the disel depending on who seats in power

  2. Himat says:

    I think it’s good for road safety and for public,
    If vehicle drivers obey and understand the low of vehicle and driving on the road, it will be safer for every one.
    I’m driving since 1965, and I seen many loony drivers from time till now.

  3. phil wright says:

    good info keep it up

  4. Mary Oswell says:

    I NEVER read subscription emails from suppliers – except this one! Really full of useful and interesting info.
    Well done for the DEFAQTO rating, too!

  5. Paul Regan says:

    I’ve never had a insurance company supply this newsletter of all my years being insured great idea plus the new driving laws for 2018.5 stars.

  6. Bill says:

    Better putting up the tax on fuel. Then the people who use the road/pollute the most, pay the most tax. If you work hard all your life to buy a ‘swanky’ car, but use it infrequently, why should you be taxed more than a high-usage, lower cost vehicle?

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  8. George says:

    We are the most taxed nation in the world, Brexit does not seem to be changing that situation, or is it get the road tax in first before all the other tax’s are heaped on.

  9. Gavin Barber says:

    Why can’t retro fitting ad blue to a vehicle, reducing its harmful emissions, give better tax incentives to an owner willing to pay for it?
    It’s just so the chancellor can keep on charging higher rates of VED, rather than encourage cleaner engines.
    So much for clean air………………. as long as the exchequer doesn’t loose out!!!

  10. Phil says:

    It’s the same old story, punish the poor ie those who can’t afford a new car get hit the most. It’s tough enough as it is

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