Personal Injury

Highway Code Changes 2022: How You’ll Be Impacted

Estimated read time: 4 mins

Carrie Tennick, January 27, 2022

Changes to the Highway Code are set to come into force on 29 January 2022.

The new rules are being implemented to try to improve safety on the roads for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as other vulnerable road users.

They come with changes drivers will need to be aware of.

We’ve put this guide together to help you work out how the Highway Code changes will impact you.

Hierarchy of road users

The updated Highway Code’s introduction will feature new rules about the hierarchy of road users. It puts the road users who are most at risk of injury in an accident at the top of the hierarchy.

It informs road users 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”.

This is aimed at drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, vans, minibuses, cars, taxis and motorcycles.

The new rules also state that “cyclists, horse riders and drivers of horse drawn vehicles likewise have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians”.

But all road users, regardless of where they sit in the new hierarchy, have a responsibility to look out for their own safety and that of others.

Priority at crossings

The updates to the Highway Code now instruct drivers that they should give way to pedestrians waiting or already crossing the road at a junction.

Motorists will also now have to give way to pedestrians on zebra crossings and to pedestrians and cyclists on parallel crossings. These are like zebra crossings, but include a cycle route.

Pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing should also be given priority.

Cyclist safety

One of the biggest areas of focus is the safety of cyclists. This has led to a number of new rules and guidelines for these road users, as well as how drivers can help keep them safe.

Drivers are now officially warned to “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”.

Motorists are also now advised that they “should give priority to cyclists” on roundabouts. When behind the wheel, you should: “Give them plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane. Allow them to move across your path as they travel around the roundabout.”

When overtaking cyclists, drivers should now leave at least 1.5 metres when travelling at speeds of up to 30mph. More space should be allowed when driving at higher speeds.

Cyclists are also now given permission to ride in the middle of a lane to make themselves more visible. If it is safe, they should move to the left of the lane, though.

Groups of cyclists can also ride two abreast if it is safe. The Highway Code instructs drivers to “allow them to do so for their own safety, to ensure they can see and be seen”.

This is not a new rule, as the old Highway Code did say that cyclists should “never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads”.

Dutch reach

Another change brought in to improve the safety of cyclists and other more vulnerable road users is the so-called Dutch reach.

It has been used by the Dutch for decades and involves using your opposite hand to open your car door.

This forces you to turn your body and head, making it more likely you’ll spot a cyclist, motorcyclist or other road user coming past who you could hit when opening your door.

If you ignore this new rule, you could face a fine of up to £1,000.

For their part, cyclists are now being told they should leave enough room when passing a parked car to avoid being hit if the door is opened.

Other updates

The Highway Code introduction now sets out that only pedestrians are allowed to use the pavement. Those using wheelchairs and mobility scooters are considered pedestrians.

Electric car charging points also now get a mention in the Highway Code. Drivers using one should park close to the charging point and avoid creating a tip hazard with any trailing cables.

They should also display a warning sign if possible and return charging cables neatly to reduce any hazards.

It is hoped these new rules will cause fewer accidents and keep vulnerable road users safer. To find out how safe a driver you are, try our road safety quiz.

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