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The changes to The Highway Code you NEED to know

The Highway Code is changing in an attempt to make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Figures released by the Department for Transport show 4,290 pedestrians and 4,700 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads from the start of 2020 to June 2021.
 
The changes took effect on Saturday 29 January and followed a public consultation on the code that heard more than 20,000 responses from the public, businesses and other organisations. Despite this, AA research has suggested one in three drivers are unaware of the new rules, so below we break down the key changes for all road users:
 
Hierarchy of road users
 
The new hierarchy of users ranks road users most at risk in the event of a collision. This has been established on the principle that those who can do the most harm have the greatest responsibility to avoid it. Those most at risk are at the top of the hierarchy:
  1. Pedestrians
  2. Cyclists
  3. Horse riders
  4. Motorcyclists
  5. Cars/taxis
  6. Vans/minibuses
  7. Larger vehicles such as HGVs and buses
 
However, the code does caveat that this new update does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly on the road.
 
Pedestrians are the priority at junctions
 
When people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, traffic should give way. If someone has begun crossing and a driver wants to turn into the road, they must wait for the pedestrian to complete their crossing. It also explains that a driver, motorcyclist and cyclist must give way to all pedestrians on a zebra or parallel crossing.
 
Walking, cycling or riding in shared spaces
 
On designated paths and other shared spaces, cyclists should take great care when overtaking people walking or riding a horse. Cyclists have also been asked to:
  • not pass pedestrians, horse riders or driving a horse-drawn vehicle closely or at high speed
  • slow down when necessary and make pedestrians aware they are
  •  remember that pedestrians may be deaf, blind or partially sighted
  • not pass a horse on the horse’s left
Pedestrians should also take care not to obstruct any paths.
 
The code will also clarify that people driving or riding a motorcycle should give priority to people cycling on roundabouts. The new guidance says people driving and or riding a motorcycle should not attempt to overtake a cyclist and allow them to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout.
 
Cyclists position on the road
 
Cyclists should make themselves as visible as possible by riding in the centre of lanes on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions. They should also keep at least 0.5m from the kerb side on busy roads and should leave 1m when passing a parked car, remembering to watch out for pedestrians.
 
Rules for cycling in groups have also been updated to explain that cyclists can ride two abreast, as long it is safe to do so and that they are still considerate of other road users.
 
Drivers and cyclists overtaking other road users
 
If the road is clear, drivers and cyclists may cross a double-white line if necessary to overtake another road user travelling at 10 mph or less. It’s important to note that you must leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists (more space if they are at higher speeds). When passing horse riders,horse-drawn vehicles or pedestrians walking in the road, you need to allow least 2 metres of space.
 
The guidance is still clear that you should sit behind these road users and only overtake when it’s safe or possible to meet these distance clearances.
 
Cyclists passing slower-moving or stationary traffic
 
Cyclists may pass slower-moving or stationary traffic on any lane, as long as they proceed with caution and ensure they have been seen. This is particularly important if they are approaching a junction or passing lorries or other large vehicles.
 
Cyclists have priority when going straight ahead at junctions
 
The code will clarify that when people cycling are going straight ahead at a junction, they have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of a side road, unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise. Cyclist have also been asked to watch out for drivers intending to turn across their path, as people driving ahead may not be able to see them.
 
Dutch Reach – parking and leaving vehicles
 
People exiting a car are now being asked to open doors using their hand on the opposite side to the door, making them turn their head to look over their shoulder. This technique, known as the Dutch Reach, reduces the chances of doors being opened into the path of oncoming traffic.
 
Using an electric vehicle charge point
 
Electric car owners are being asked to park close to the charge point and avoid creating a trip hazard from trailing cables for people walking, display a warning sign if possible and to return all cables neatly.
 
In total, 9 sections of The Highway Code has been updated, with 50 rules being added or amended. If you would like more detail, read thefull version of The Highway Code online here
31 January 2022

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