Highway Code Changes

You will have no doubt seen in the press that from January 29th the Highway Code is updating its rules for all types of road users. Here Adrian answers your questions about what those changes mean.

Why has there been a change?

The changes follow a public consultation into a review of the Highway Code to improve road safety for people walking, cycling and horse riding.

Previously the Highway Code guided all roads users to be considerate to each other – essentially placing the same emphasis on drivers and vulnerable road users e.g. cyclists. The new rules have changed that emphasis and have been brought in to help improve road safety for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

I’ve seen the term Hierarchy of Road Users mentioned – what does that mean?

The new rules have brought in a: ‘hierarchy of road users.’

What that means is – that those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in a collision or accident, like an HGV vehicle, bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.

This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, cars and motorcycles. 

It also means that other more vulnerable road users have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians who are walking.

How many changes are there?

There are eight key changes in the following areas:

  1. The hierarchy of road users which I’ve mentioned
  2. People crossing the road at junctions
  3. Walking, cycling or riding in shared spaces
  4. Positioning in the road when cycling
  5. Overtaking when driving or cycling
  6. People cycling at junctions
  7. People cycling, riding a horse and driving horse-drawn vehicles or roundabouts
  8. Parking, charging and leaving vehicles

Click HERE for detailed information on the changes.

In a snapshot – what are the main changes we will see?

  • The rules give people walking across and people cycling going straight ahead priority when turning in and out of junctions
  • You need to leave at least 1.5 metres when you overtake people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph and give them more space when you pass at higher speeds.
  • Driving at speeds under 10mph and allowing at least two metres of space when passing people riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle
  • Allowing at least two metres of space and keeping to a low speed when you’re passing a person who is walking in the road
  • Encouraging people driving vehicles to open their doors with the hand furthest from the door, to help them look over their shoulder behind them to see people cycling or walking nearby – it’s actually known as the Dutch Reach method.
  • People may now cycle right in the centre of the road or side by side for their own safety, while allowing others to overtake when it’s safe for them to do so

I would encourage people to revisit the Highway Code in full though so they can see the changes in detail, it’s so easy these days, you can access an up-to-date copy of the Highway Cone online, click HERE for the link.

What happens if drivers don’t stick to the rules?

Many of the rules are actually legal requirements so people could of course face fines,

points on their licence or be disqualified.

What would your advice be to road users?

Familiarise yourself with the new Highways Code and try to understand the new rules – if you need any clarification or have any questions we would be happy to help.

Did you know?

Here is a link to the main changes to the Highway Code