Focus on: How to stay road legal

Date: Monday, July 03, 2017   |   Author: Steve Banner

 

MOBILE PHONES

Get caught using a hand-held phone while driving and you could end up with six penalty points and a £200 fine. You can also face sanctions if you are using a hands-free phone and the police believe you are distracted and not in proper control of your vehicle.

BRAKES & TYRES

Running on bald tyres or with defective brakes or steering could land you with a fine of up to £2,500 and three points for each offence. If you have four bald tyres then you could end up with 12 points – and that may mean a year-long driving ban. One way of avoiding this calamity is to carry out a daily walk-around check of your vehicle using a smartphone app; the one created by leasing firm Leaseplan is a prime example. It will help ensure that you do not miss anything and that any defects are addressed quickly if your van happens to be on a maintenance agreement.

LONDON

Drive a van into central London and the odds are it will cost you.Enter the Congestion Charge zone from 23 October onwards – Monday to Friday, 7am to 6pm excluding Bank Holidays – and you will be hit with an additional £10 a day toxicity charge, or ‘T-charge’ if your vehicle does not meet the Euro4 exhaust emission standard, on top of a Congestion Charge payment.

C -charge -web

Go forward to 8 April 2019 and you look set to encounter the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). It too will mirror the Congestion Charge zone, and you will be hit by a daily £12.50 fee 24/7 if your light commercial fails to meet Euro4 (if petrol) or Euro6 (if diesel) standards. It was originally scheduled for introduction in September 2020, but London mayor Sadiq Khan wants to introduce it earlier and use it to replace the T-Charge.
LCVs registered as new before 1 January 2002 may already attract penalties if they enter the, far larger, Low Emission Zone.

Driving in cities can be a nightmare at the best of times and there is always the risk of becoming a crash-for-cash victim. Fitting a dashboard-mounted camera will ensure that exactly what happened is recorded and help you refute any subsequent, illicit, claim.
SmartWitness is among those companies able to supply a sophisticated onboard camera system.

TRAILERS & TOWING

Tow a trailer and you are subject to lower speed limits. While the 30mph restriction still applies in built-up areas, the limits on single- and dual-carriageways and motorways are 50mph, 60mph and 60mph respectively, unless lower limits are posted.

If you passed your car driving test after 1 January 1997 then you may have to take another test if you wish to haul a trailer. Run a 3.5-tonner, for example, and you will have to take an additional test if you are proposing to pull a trailer grossing at above 750kg.

The DVSA advises that in most cases you will have to have a tachograph installed and obey the EU’s heavy truck Drivers’ Hours rules if your vehicle and trailer combination grosses at above 3.5 tonnes. You will also require a heavy truck Operator’s Licence if the combination is higher than 3.5 tonnes gross or if the total unladen weight of the towing vehicle and trailer is above 1.525 tonnes.

However, you will not need an Operator’s Licence if the unladen weight of your trailer is below 1.02 tonnes and you only carry your own goods, the DVSA adds.

SMOKING

Having contemplated all the rules on these pages, an existing or former smoker sitting in his or her van may feel the sudden craving for a cigarette. That craving will probably have to be resisted. Either that or get out of the cab and stand on the pavement before you light up.

That is because smoking is not allowed in any work vehicle that is used by more than one person on pain of a fine of up to £200 (up to £50 in Scotland). Businesses can be fined up to £2,500 if they fail to stop drivers in this situation smoking, and up to £1,000 if there are no ‘No smoking’ signs in the cab.

In Scotland £200 fixed penalty fines are issued rising to £2,500 if the fine is not paid.
Best to admit defeat and give up. It’s a bad habit anyway...



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