Important changes to the Highway Code that you may not know about for 2022

What is the Highway Code?

Most people are unaware, but there are some important changes coming to the rules of the road in the UK, known as the Highway Code. The Highway Code is a collection of guides and mandatory rules for road users in the UK, with the objective to promote road safety. The Highway Code applies to all road users such as pedestrians and cyclist, not just motor vehicle owners. If you would like view the official document of changes to the Highway Code, please click here.

What are the changes to the Highway Code?​

H1: The changes to the Highway Code mostly involve the hierarchy of road users (see above), which places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy. For example, an individual driving a HGV should give a greater responsibility of care for other road users as they are the largest and most dangerous vehicles on the road. On the contrary, cyclists should have a greater responsibility for pedestrians, but car drivers should have a greater responsibility for both of them as well as motorcyclists. This doesn't mean that pedestrians can wonder wherever they please because they are at the bottom of the hierarchy, but it reinforces the duty of care that road users should have for others.

H2: The second addition to the Highway Code is that vehicles should give way to pedestrians that are crossing, or about to cross, a road that you are turning in to. This new law is similar to the 'continuous sidewalks' that can be seen across Europe, especially in the Netherlands, where road traffic must stop for pedestrians and cyclists crossing at junctions.

H3: The final main law that has been added to the Highway Code is that you must not cut across cyclists or horse riders when turning into a junction. The advice is to treat them like any other road user and avoid causing them to stop or swerve around you.

There are also additional rules aimed at cyclists in attempt at improving their safety and visibility on the road. These include the following:

  • Cyclists are allowed to cycle in the center of a lane if they wish, although they must pull over to the side if it is safe to do so when a faster vehicle approaches them.
  • Cyclists are allowed to cycle side by side to increase their visibility and safety on the road, but they must return to a single-file line to allow other road users to overtake when they approach.
  • Drivers are advised to give at least 5 feet of space between them and cyclists when overtaking.
  • Cyclists do not have to use dedicated cycle lanes when they are riding along roads, and can use the road if it is safer.
  • Cyclists are reminded to leave a 1 metre gap between them and parked vehicles to avoid collisions.

The new Highway Code rules will come into effect on the 29th January 2022. For further information, this article on the GOV.UK website goes into further detail, including information for horse riders and how motorists should interact with situations involving them on the road.