What are the new Highway Code rules?
The Highway Code recently changed, as of the 29th January 2022, which we mentioned on our LinkedIn page. This article goes into more depth about these changes, so that all road users can be aware of them to improve everyone's safety.
Hierarchy of Road Users
The first change to the revamped Highway Code was the “hierarchy of road users”. This change aims to make the roads a safer place for all users, by placing those with the highest risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy. This is shown in the handy guide from Citroen UK.
Crossing at Junctions
The second change is to do with people crossing the roads at junctions. The updated code explains that:
- When people are waiting to cross or crossing at a junction, other traffic should give way
- If traffic wants to turn into a road but people have started crossing, the people crossing have priority and the traffic should give way.
Another important change to be aware of is the new guidance on areas and routes that are shared by pedestrians walking, cycling and horse riders. These changes include but are not limited to:
- Cyclists and horse riders should respect the safety of the people walking
- Cyclists should not pass walkers or horse riders closely or at high speed
- Cyclists should not pass a horse on the horses left
- They should also slow down when needed and let people know they are there, for example by ringing their bell
Road Positioning when Cycling
There is also updated guidance for the positioning in the road when cycling. This guidance includes that they should keep at least 0.5m away from the kerb edges when they are riding on busier roads, with vehicles that are moving faster than them. People cycling in groups should also be considerate of the other road user’s needs, and that they can ride 2 abreast as it can be safer, especially when riding with someone less experienced or with a child.
Overtaking other road users
The fifth update is regarding drivers and motorcyclists overtaking other road users and the safe passing distances and speeds when doing so. There should be at least:
- 5m when overtaking cyclists at 30mph, leaving more space when overtaking during higher speeds
- 2m of space when overtaking horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles, passing at under 10mph
- 2m of space when overtaking people walking in the road, passing at a slow speed.
If it is not possible or unsafe to overtake, you should wait behind them until possible too, using these speeds and distances.
Cycling and Horse Riding at junctions and roundabouts
There have also been updates to the code with regards to people cycling at junctions. Some junctions now include separate cycle traffic lights, which may turn green and allow cyclists to move before other traffic, and people are encouraged to use these lights. The updated code also recommends cyclists should act as if they are driving a vehicle, where these cycle lights are not present.
There have also been updates with regards to cyclists, horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles on roundabouts. The new guidance says that drivers and motorcyclists should
- Not attempt to overtake people who are cycling within the same lane
- Allow cyclists to move across their path as they are travelling on the roundabout
Further guidance has been added to explain and make drivers aware that they should approach and enter roundabouts with extra caution, to make sure they do not cut across any other road users, including cyclists and horse riders.
Parking, charging and leaving your vehicle
There is a new recommended technique when leaving your vehicle, called the “Dutch Reach”. When possible, drivers and passengers should open the door using their hand opposite to the door that is being opened. For example, using their right hand when opening the door on the left side. This technique will help them to turn their head and look over their shoulder, which in turn will mean they are less likely to cause injury to cyclists, motorcyclists and people on the pavement.
The code also includes, for the first time, guidance on using charging points for electric vehicles. When using one, drivers should:
- Park as close to the charging point as possible and aim to avoid creating any potential trip hazards with the cables
- Display a warning sign when possible
- Return the charging cables with care, to avoid any potential hazards and dangers to other road users
The Highway Code is essential reading for all road users and many of the rules are actually legal requirements, so it is important everyone keeps up to date with it. In total, there were 10 sections updated in the Highway Code, with 50 rules either being added or updated. To find the full summary of the changes and to stay up to date with further changes, please visit the Highway Code updates list available from GOV.UK