This year has seen dramatic changes to the laws which govern Scotland’s roads. To ensure that our readers are up-to-date with road legislation, we have compiled the year’s noteworthy changes into a helpful review.
The UK’s drink-drive limit was set in 1979 and has remained steady for the past thirty-five years. However, the Scottish government sought to bring our roads in line with those across Europe and lowered the limit from the UK-standard 80 to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
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The new limit officially came into effect on 5th December. Within six hours, Police Scotland had stopped and arrested four motorists.
It remains to be seen whether the new limit will have an appreciable effect on the rates of drink-driving and of injuries sustained in drink-driving collisions.
In December, the DVLA announced plans to phase out the paper counterpart and replace it with a digital alternative. The move was part of a larger campaign to reduce the department’s costs, streamline license checks and prepare drivers’ records for a transition into new digital systems.
However, after sustained lobbying by key transportation groups, the plans were postponed.
At the moment, the paper counterpart hangs in purgatory. While we do not expect it to remain for any significant period of time, the future of the counterpart remains to be seen.
Road Tax Disc
In August, it was announced that motorists were no longer required to display a physical tax disc in their vehicle. From the 1st October, paper tax discs were to be phased out entirely. Unfortunately, this did not mean an end to road tax. The old tax system was outdated and creaking and it was to be replaced with a robust digital alternative.
Checks will now be conducted electronically using databases. Motorists who fail to tax their vehicle will face fines of up to £1,000.
So ends the story of the 93-year-old tax disc.
Jim Clark Rally Safety Review
In June, rally drivers took to the track for the annual Jim Clark Rally in the Borders. At 3pm, a driver lost control and ploughed into a group of spectators. Three people were killed and six others injured.
The tragedy prompted Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to order an immediate safety review. The review published its findings in October. Recommendations include the appointment of an independent safety delegate at each event, better training for marshals and improved reporting of warnings.
The recommendations are to be implemented in all future events. Organisers of the Jim Clark Rally have announced that the event will go ahead in the New Year and will implement all recommendations from the safety review.