Changes To The Highway Code – What Does It Mean To You?
Personal Injury paralegal, Haley Archibald, discusses the changes to the Highway Code and what this means for you in her latest blog….
Important changes to The Highway Code were introduced on 29 January 2022. If you were not aware of the changes then you are not alone. A recent survey conducted by the AA indicated that one in three drivers were unaware that The Highway Code was being revamped and 4% said they had no intention of looking at the changes.
So, should you be interested in the changes? The simple answer is yes. It is important to keep up to date with the new rules in order to understand your responsibility for the safety of others.
Many of the rules in the code are legal requirements. Therefore, you would be committing a criminal offence if you fail to follow the new rules.
What Are The Changes And How Do They Impact You?
Hierarchy of road users
The hierarchy places road users who are most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy with pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair users being recognised as the most vulnerable. The changes reflect that road users who pose greater risks to others should bear a higher level of responsibility to reduce the danger they pose to others.
There is still the requirement for all road users, including pedestrians, to be considerate of others and have regard for their own and other road users’ safety.
People Crossing The Road At Junctions
Most road users are aware that pedestrians crossing a road have priority, however, under the new rules, those waiting to cross at a junction also have priority. Meaning that drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a road. This also applies when a road user wants to turn into a road in which someone is waiting to cross.
The updated code also clarifies that drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists must give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing.
Walking, Cycling Or Riding In Shared Spaces
The code now gives clear guidance on routes and spaces which are shared by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. People cycling, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle should respect the safety of people walking in these spaces, but people walking should also take care not to obstruct or endanger them.
When using shared routes, cyclists are asked to:
- Not to pass too close to pedestrians, horse riders or horse-drawn vehicles, especially when approaching from behind
- Slow down and alert people of their presence i.e. by ringing their bell
- Be considerate of those that may be deaf, blind or partially sighted
- Not pass a horse on the horse’s left
Positioning In The Road When Cycling
The code provides updated guidance about the positioning of cyclists in the road.
Cyclists should ride in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or a narrowing road.
Those cycling in groups should be considerate towards the needs of other road users and allow motorists to overtake them when it is safe to do so.
Overtaking When Driving Or Cycling
Motorists are allowed to cross a double-white line when overtaking a cyclist or horse rider travelling at 10 mph or less, providing that the road is clear.
The code has also provided updated guidance on safe passing distances and speeds for overtaking vulnerable road users. It also confirms that cyclists may pass slower-moving traffic or stationary traffic on the right or left but should proceed with caution.
People Cycling At Junctions
The code has provided clarification for cyclists turning into or pulling out of a side road. In these circumstances, a cyclist should give way to pedestrians who are crossing or waiting to cross the road.
Some junctions now include cycle traffic lights which allow cyclists to move separately from or before other traffic. Cyclists are encouraged to use this facility to make their journey safer and easier. However, if the junction does not have the new facility then cyclists are recommended to proceed as if they were driving a vehicle. This includes positioning themselves in the centre of their chosen lane, where they feel safe to do so.
The code also confirms that cyclists going straight ahead at a junction have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of a side road, unless indicated otherwise.
People Cycling, Riding A Horse And Driving Horse-Drawn Vehicles On Roundabouts
The code has been updated to confirm that people driving or riding a motorcycle should give priority to people cycling on roundabouts. The new guidance states that they should:
- Not attempt to overtake people cycling within that person’s lane
- Allow people cycling to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout
Parking, Charging And Leaving Vehicles
The Highway Code now recommends using the ‘Dutch Reach’ when exiting a vehicle. When drivers or passengers in a vehicle are able to do so, they should open the door using their hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. For example, using their right hand to open a door on their left-hand side. This method is meant to reduce the risk of opening the door into the path of a cyclist or pedestrian as it should make someone look over their shoulder for oncoming pedestrians/cyclists. This should, therefore, reduce the likelihood of ‘car dooring’.
Car dooring definition: the act of opening a motor vehicle door in the path of another road user
Keeping Up To Date With Changes
The Highway Code is updated regularly, and it is important to be aware of the changes.
Here are two ways to do so:
- Read the full updated version of The Highway Code here.
- Sign up to get email alerts when rules change
How Can We Help?
If you have any questions about the changes to the Highway Code, or any other personal injury queries, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01332 364436 or via email at email@example.com. Alternatively, you can visit the Personal Injury page on our website here.