In January 2022, the UK government made some Highway Code changes. Do you know what these updates mean for you?
The recent Highway Code changes impact all road users. Whether you are a pedestrian, driving or cycling, the recent changes will almost certainly impact you on the roads. Therefore, we thought we’d jot down a few of the changes that you should be aware of.
The change has seen 8 new rules introduced and updates to 49 existing rules.
There is now a “Hierarchy of Road Users”, which is made up of three different rules: H1, H2 and H3. The hierarchy gives the highest priority to the vulnerable road users (e.g. pedestrians and cyclists):
H1 = Drivers of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger to others.
H2 = At a junction, drivers, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.
H3 = You should not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles going ahead when you are turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane.
Another change involves rules at junctions:
Vehicles should now give way to people crossing or waiting to cross at a junction.
People who have started crossing at a junction also have priority over traffic that wants to turn into the junction.
Vehicles and cyclists must give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing.
There is new guidance on how to share the road where there is no footpath or safe space for pedestrians to walk off the road:
People cycling, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle should respect the safety of people walking in these spaces.
People walking should also take care not to obstruct or endanger other road users.
There is even updated guidance on road positioning for cyclists, who should:
Ride in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or where a road narrows.
Keep at least 0.5 metres (just over 1.5 feet) away from the kerb edge on busy roads.
Part of the change includes guidance on crossing a double-white line.
The update states that you may cross a double-white line if necessary (provided the road is clear), to overtake someone cycling or riding a horse if they are travelling at 10 mph or less (Rule 129).
The code has been updated to clarify that when turning into or out of a side road, people cycling should give way to people walking who are crossing or waiting to cross.
There is also advice for cyclists to use the small cycle traffic lights at eye-level height if the junction includes them. These cycle traffic lights allow cyclists to move separately from or before other traffic.
Clarification has made that people driving or riding a motorcycle should give priority to people cycling on roundabouts. The new guidance will say people driving and/or riding a motorcycle 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.
And number 8… is to change how you leave your vehicle.
There is a new technique called the “Dutch Reach” that the Highway Code encourages all drivers and passengers to use when exiting a vehicle.
The method involves opening the door by using the hand on the opposite side to the door you are opening. For example, if you are opening the door to your right, you should use your left hand to open it.
It sounds unusual but it is to make people turn their head further to look over their shoulder behind them. The hope is that it will result in less risk of injury to cyclists or motorcyclists and people on the pavement.
This is by no means a full list of all the changes, just a brief overview to give you an idea of what’s changed.
You can find the full list of changes on the “Highway Code: 8 changes you need to know from 29 January 2022” article on the UK government website, along with information on where to purchase a copy of the Highway Code book.
Lastly, while these changes have the potential to make the roads a safer space for all, it needs awareness to make that happen. Please share this and discuss with your fellow road users as much as possible to increase awareness of these changes!