Did you know that some significant Highway Code changes have come into force this year? As a road user, you have a duty and responsibility to keep up to date with any amendments and changes to the Highway Code.
For people who are not regular road drivers, and might be borrowing a car, it’s important to know what the highway code changes are for 2022 before taking out any temporary car insurance.
Below, we’ve outlined the changes that have been made, so you can be on your way to becoming a safer and more responsible driver.
Here are the new Highway Code changes you need to know
Hierarchy of road users
The “hierarchy of road users” is what identifies and places the road users that are most at risk of injury in the event of a road collision at the top of the hierarchy. However, this hierarchy doesn’t mean that only certain road users need to act responsibly.
Everyone must understand their responsibility for keeping others safe on the road. Those who are driving vehicles with the ability to cause the greatest harm will have the biggest responsibility to drive carefully and decrease the risk they pose to other road users.
This principle applies to people driving HGVs, LGVs, taxis, cars, and motorbikes. Likewise, cyclists and horse riders have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians.
Rule H2 – Rule for drivers, motorcyclists, horse-drawn vehicles, horse riders & cyclists
At junctions, motorcyclists, horse riders, cyclists, and drivers should all give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road that they’re either turning into or from.
You should also give way to pedestrians waiting to go across a zebra crossing and cyclists and pedestrians waiting to cross a parallel crossing.
Rule H3 – Rule for drivers and motorcyclists
The new rule H3 gives priority to cyclists when cars are turning. Drivers should not cut across horse riders, cyclists, or horse-drawn vehicles when turning out or into a junction, or changing lanes or directions.
This rule applies whether they’re using a cycle track, a cycle lane, or riding ahead, and drivers should always give way to them.
Rule 63 – Guidance concerning shared spaces – walking, cycling, or riding
When it comes to shared spaces, cyclists should never overtake horse riders and pedestrians at high speed or too closely. They should attempt to alert other road users that they’re behind them.
This could be by ringing a bell, and the cyclist should always consider that other people may be blind, partially sighted or deaf.
Rule 72 – Road positioning for cyclists
People cycling in groups
Cyclists should be especially considerate of others if they’re cycling in a group. The guidance recommends that cyclists ride “two abreast” or next to each other, especially if they’re accompanying less experienced cyclists or children.
People cycling passing parked vehicles
The updated Highway Code states that cyclists should take care when passing stationary vehicles. They should pass at a distance of at least 1m to avoid injury if the motor vehicle door was to open.
Rule 73 – Concerning cyclists at junctions
Cyclists waiting to turn right should assess the traffic to ensure it’s safe. They should then signal and move into the middle of the road. Wait until a safe gap appears in the traffic flow and give one last look before turning right.
Going straight ahead
Cyclists travelling straight on at a junction have priority over any traffic that is waiting to turn out of or into a side road, unless the road markings say otherwise.
Rule 129 – Overtaking when driving or cycling
Anyone overtaking vulnerable road users should pass with a distance of at least 5 feet if travelling up to 30mph. You should leave more space if you’re driving faster.
Roundabouts – cycling, riding a horse & driving horse-drawn vehicles
Motorists should always give way to a cyclist, horse rider, or horse-drawn vehicle and never attempt to cut across them.
Parking & opening car doors
The updated “waiting and parking” section in the Highway Code now describes the “Dutch Reach”. This recommends that you open your car door using the opposite hand to the door you’re opening.
For example, you’d use your left hand to open your right door. This automatically means your head turns so you can look over your shoulder.
Electric Vehicle Charge Point usage
When charging electric vehicles, motorists should park as close as possible to the charging point. This will avoid any potential trip hazards caused by trailing cables.
What is classed as a junction?
A junction refers to two or more roads that join, allowing motorists that are changing direction to proceed in a safe and controlled way.
Can you cycle on the pavement?
No, cyclists must never use pavements as these are reserved for pedestrians. In many places, there are designated cycle lanes for cyclists.
These may run next to footpaths or pavements and are typically separated with either a verge, white line, kerb, or a change of road material.
When does the new Highway Code come into effect?
The new rules of The Highway Code for 2022 came into force on 29th January. Considered by the British government as essential reading, the new rules apply across England, Scotland, and Wales.
How many new rules were added when the Highway Code was updated?
Nine sections of The Highway Code have been improved and updated, with 50 new rules either amended or added.
This includes stating that motorists must now give way to pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross, or already crossing a zebra crossing or parallel crossing, and guidance on shared use cycle tracks.
Whether you use the road regularly or intermittently, you must familiarise yourself with these updated Highway Code rules. This will ensure you’re aware of what you can and can’t do on the road, and that you travel safely, reducing the risk to others.
Keep in mind that when rules featuring the wording “must/must not” are broken, the Highway Code can be used as evidence in court cases to establish liability. For this reason, it is essential to know which rules are “advisory” and which ones are legally enforceable.