Updated Highway Code rules 2022: what are the changes?

New Highway Code rules are being introduced this week – here, we explain what they will mean for car drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, including who has priority on the road...

UK road signs

Pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders will have priority over larger vehicles with the potential to cause the most harm under changes to the Highway Code due to come into force this week.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), buses, vans, taxis and cars will be subject to a new road-user hierarchy that gives the highest priority to those who are considered most at risk, including children, older adults and people with disabilities. 

The new code also states that cyclists should ride in the centre of the road on quieter streets and in slower moving traffic. This is to make them more visible, but they must move over to the left safely if a faster vehicle approaches behind them.

Man on bike

When passing bicycles at speeds of up to 30mph, drivers must stay at least 1.5 metres away from them. Above that speed they should leave even more space.

Drivers must also give way at junctions to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road they are turning in to. 

Another recommendation includes the use of the 'Dutch Reach' technique, where drivers use their left hand to open their door when parked (on a right-hand-drive car). This is to give the driver more visibility when opening the door into moving traffic.

The aim of the new rules is to reduce the number of collisions and make drivers more aware of the risk they pose to other road users and pedestrians.

Motorways to get traffic lights to beat congestion

A poll from the AA between 8 and 18 January this year showed that a third of motorists (33%) were unaware of the updates to the Highway Code, including 4% who revealed they had “no intention” of researching the new details.

The AA head of roads policy, Jack Cousens, said: “While the Government formally announced these changes last summer, they have been far too silent in promoting them.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport (DfT) responded by saying: “The proposed upcoming changes to the Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, and were announced to the national press.”

Figures from the DfT reveal that 4290 pedestrians and 4700 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on UK roads in the 12 months ending in June 2021. 

The changes to the Highway Code come after the Government announced £5.5m of funding for walking and cycling schemes.

The new rules are expected to come into force on 29 January, pending approval by Parliament. 

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