28 January 2022

The Highway Code is changing, but how will it affect you?

By Road Runner

On 29th January, the Highway Code is set to change, with the introduction of eight new rules and updates to 49 existing rules. According to the Department for Transport (DfT) over 9,000 pedestrians and cyclists were killed on our roads between June 2020 and June 2021, so it’s no surprise that cyclists and pedestrians’ safety is the main focus of the rule changes. Read on to find out what the main changes are and ensure you’re ready for when the changes come into force.

Arguably the most significant addition to the Highway Code is the inclusion of the new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ system, which will give priority to the more vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians. The Hierarchy of Road Users has been split into three separate new rules, named H1, H2 and H3.

Rule H1 – Hierarchy of vehicles

The proposal for Rule H1 states that ‘those in charge 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 they pose to others’.

The rule will apply mostly to those drivers of trucks, buses, large vans and cars.

The rule also adds that cyclists and horse riders have a responsibility to look after pedestrians’ safety and all road users are responsible for ensuring their own and others’ safety.

Rule H2 – Priorities for pedestrians

‘At a junction, you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.’

In simple terms, if you are pulling into or out of a junction and there is someone waiting to cross, you must let them do so.

This rule will also apply to cyclists on shared-use cycle tracks.

Rule H3 – Drivers to give priority to cyclists in certain situations

The final rule in the Hierarchy of Road Users states ‘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’. The rule is to prevent cyclists or horse riders having to stop or swerve in the road and potentially cause an accident.

Other driving law changes

  • Motorists will be required to leave at least a 1.5 metre gap when over-taking cyclists.
  • Cyclists are recommended to cycle in the middle of the lane on quieter roads, to make themselves more visible.
  • If you are the cyclist and you’re coming up to a horse rider or pedestrian, you’re now advised to give a quick ring of the bell to let them know you’re there.
  • Use of a handheld device for any reason will now be banned, apart from in an emergency. If your device is securely fixed, it can still be used for hands-free calls, payment at toll booths and for sat nav.

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