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Highway code changes - what do they mean for road users?

View profile for Anna Standen
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On the 29th January 2022 the Highway Code is changing: how many of us are aware of it? It seems that there hasn’t been a lot of publicity about the topic, but these rules will affect every user of roads, be it as a pedestrian, as a cyclist or as a driver! The new hierarchy of road users, i.e., which individuals owe the ‘greatest’ responsibility to their fellow road users, is the set of most important changes coming our way. What does this mean in practical terms?

The new Hierarchy of road users is split into three rules:

  • Rule H1 puts more responsibility on the drivers of larger vehicles, as one would assume it should be. The Government have expressed the importance of these road users understanding their newfound responsibility. The rule says that cyclists and horse riders have a responsibility to look out for pedestrians. It stresses that all road users have responsibility to ensure their own safety, as well as that of others. Pedestrians still need to consider the safety of other road users. The overall aim is to have more ‘mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use’.
  • Rule H2 is for drivers, motorbike riders, horse riders and cyclists and it’s aimed at providing clearer and stronger priorities for pedestrians. At a junction, drivers should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which they are turning. Cyclists now also have to give way to pedestrians on shared-use cycle tracks.
  • Rule H3 this update is aimed at drivers and motorcyclists, and states that motorists should not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane. Motorists should not turn at a junction if doing so would cause a cyclist or horse rider to stop or swerve. Instead, they are advised to wait for a safe gap before turning in.

Other rules to protect pedestrians are also being introduced, such as one which states that cyclists are advised to take care when overtaking pedestrians and horses by slowing down and alerting them using their bell.

Are these new rules legally enforceable? Only if the rules are described as ‘must’ rather than ‘should’!

What else? The ‘Dutch Reach’ update – open the door with your hand furthest from it as this naturally turns your head to look over your shoulder. Now driver’s face a fine if they don’t follow it and injure someone. Cycling UK have been helping people understand this technique through their campaign #teachthereach which can be found here: https://www.cyclinguk.org/dutchreach.  We also covered the 'Dutch Reach' campaign in an earlier blog here.

For more information you can visit the Government website here: Summary of the consultation proposals on a review of The Highway Code - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)