DRIVERS are facing a raft of new road laws and changes to the MOT system in 2019.

The Highway Code has been updated and the way car-owners are expected to maintain their vehicles has also been given a shake-up.

In the last year alone the Department for Transport made five major updates to the Code.

These included introducing new rules on the use of remote control parking - a common feature in the latest models.

But as the new year approaches, road-users need to be aware of the latest changes on the way for 2019.

From new fines for passing cyclists dangerously to new MOT requirements - here are the fresh road rules you need to be aware of.

Passing cyclists
Drivers have always been told to keep well aware of how close they are to a cyclist as they overtake them.

But now those who recklessly steer too close to a bike-rider face a fine for not leaving enough space.

Following new legislation in March, motorists will be fined 100 if they do not give room to a cyclist when they pass.

The Highway Code states drivers should leave at least 1.5m (4.9ft) between the car and a cyclist - which is roughly the width of a standard car door.

Motorway driving for learners
Drivers will remember being told as learners that they were only allowed to use motorways once they had passed their test.

But now, learner-drivers are allowed to take to motorways as part of a lesson.

They must be accompanied by an instructor with dual controls in the car.

But motorway driving is still optional for learners - and they are not required to have motorway experience to pass their test.

Smart motorway fines
The government is expected to introduce a new fine for drivers who use closed lanes on so-called "smart" motorways.

Any motorist who is caught driving on lanes marked with a red "x" on the automated signs above the road could face a 100 fine - and three points on their license.

Lanes are shut when there is an accident or blockage ahead - and are used to avoid further accidents and ease congestion.

Ministers are expected to announce the new fines in 2019 - and it is believed that roadside cameras will be modified to help catch offenders.

There are now new MOT categories for cars being tested.

These are:

Dangerous - Direct risk to road safety or the environment. Results in a Fail.
Major - Could affect safety or the environment. Results in a Fail.
Minor - No effect on safety, but should be repaired as soon as possible.
Advisory - Could have an effect in future.
Pass - Meets the current legal standards.

And a range of new legal requirements are now being introduced to the MOT for the first time.

These include:

Under-inflated tyres
Contaminated brake fluid
Brake pad warning lights and missing brake pads or discs
Reversing lights (for vehicles newer than September 2009)
Daytime running lights (for vehicles newer than March 2018)

Graduated driving licences
The government is considering bringing in a new graduated driving license for newly-passed drivers.

Currently, new drivers who have been behind the wheel for less than two years face stricter penalties for offences like using a mobile phone while driving.

But a whole range of restrictions could also be imposed under a scheme being considered by ministers.

The RAC believes these are likely to focus on:

Curfews - Times when they are allowed to be on the road
Passengers - Limits for how many passengers a new driver can have
Speed - Separate, lower speed limits to other drivers
Engine sizes - Limits on how powerful their cars can be
Mandatory P plates - These are currently optional, but could be made mandatory for up to two years
Alcohol - Lower limits than the general driving population.

A year-long pilot scheme for graduated licences will be tested in Northern Ireland from 2019.

This could lead to the new licenses being rolled out across the UK if successful.