Car insurance and the Road Traffic Act 1988
The Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA 1998) is the principle act covering many aspects of road use by vehicles in the UK. It has since been modified and added to by the Road Traffic Act 1991, which particularly focused on parking regulations.
One of the most important aspects of the RTA 1988 is the regulations it lays down with regard to car insurance. Together with the Motor Vehicles Compulsory Insurance Regulations 1987, it states that every car running on roads in the UK must be covered by car insurance in order to protect the driver from third party liability.
Very few people are familiar with the RTA 1988, yet it is the reason why the millions of law-abiding road users in the UK search around for a new car insurance quote each year. However, it has a lot more impact on us than being the driving force behind finding car insurance quotes, as it stretches far beyond requiring motor insurance.
Every road user should be aware of at least its contents so the duck2water Car Insurance Services team have put together a brief description of each of its seven parts.
Road Traffic Act 1988
Part I of the RTA 1988 is concerned with the principle road safety provisions. It covers all the major driving offences, as well as having a specific section concerning motorists who have been found to have taken drink or drugs. Some of the driving offences have since been amended by more recent acts, but the bulk remains largely unchanged.
This part also covers the promotion of road safety, detailing the use of protective measures such as seat belts and helmets, and setting down the importance of documents such as The Highway Code. Finally, it concerns itself with the law regarding stopping on verges and defining the regulations by which cyclists are bound.
Part II of the RTA 1988 focuses on the construction and use of vehicles and equipment. This sets out the general regulations that define which motor vehicles and cycles can be used on UK roads, confining them to specific designs, construction, equipment and markings. On top of this, it also looks at the maintenance and loading of goods vehicles.
Part III and IV of the RTA 1988 examine the Licensing of Drivers of Vehicles and of Heavy Goods Vehicles. These form the requirement for every UK motorist to hold a driving licence, and the tests which motorists should undergo in order to obtain such a licence. This has been modified in recent years, with the introduction of the two-part theory test which drivers must pass as well as their practical test.
These parts also cover the necessity for motorists to be physically fit for driving, with specific provisions for those with disabilities and uncorrected eyesight. Disqualification for reasons other than conviction is the final topic covered by these parts.
Part V of the RTA 1988 provides regulation regarding driving instruction, with particular focus on the registration and licensing of driving instructors. It also looks at the examinations and tests which training driving instructors must pass in order to become fully qualified.
It is Part VI of the RTA 1988 which is concerned with third party liabilities. It sets out the requirement for motor vehicles to be secured against third party risks with car insurance, as well as noting the few exceptions to this rule. It also lays down certain requirements that apply to the formulation of policies by car insurance companies, and how car insurance certificates should be issued and surrendered.
This part goes on to cover the handling of payment for hospital and emergency treatment of people who have been involved in road traffic accidents and how this relates to car insurance companies.
Part VII of the RTA 1988 is the final part, and looks at any miscellaneous or general provisions which have not been covered in the previous sections. It sets out the powers of constables and other authorities, as well as the requirement for drivers to provide a correct name and address if stopped by an appropriate authority. Finally, it outlines the duties held by a driver who is involved in an accident on UK roads.
If you would like to read a full version of the Road Traffic Act 1988, please go to: www.opsi.gov.uk
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