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Schematic of new junction priorities

New Highway Code rules 2022

The Highway Code is changing in an attempt to make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) 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.

A DfT spokesman said: “The proposed upcoming changes to the Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. The department has established a working group of key organisations to ensure that messages about the changes are as widespread as possible and our well-established Think! campaign will continue to ensure all road users are aware both when these changes come into effect and beyond.”

Despite this, AA research has suggested one in three drivers is unaware of the new rules, which are due to come into force from 29 January 2022. Here are the key changes explained.

What is the Highway Code?

The Highway Code, first published in 1931, is a set of information, guides and mandatory rules for road users in the United Kingdom.

It contains information about road signs, road markings, vehicle markings, and road safety. There is guidance on licence requirements, documentation, penalties, and vehicle security and maintenance.

The code applies to all road users, including the most vulnerable – pedestrians, mobility scooter users, cyclists and horse riders.

New hierarchy of road users

The biggest new rule is the introduction of hierarchies of road users, based on how likely they are to cause harm. Those who control more dangerous vehicles will now have additional responsibility to reduce their threat.

The Hierarchy is:

  1. Pedestrians
  2. Cyclists
  3. Horse Riders
  4. Motorcyclists
  5. Cars / Taxis
  6. Vans / Minibuses
  7. Large passenger vehicles / heavy goods vehicles

This places more, but not complete, responsibility on those in larger vehicles to ensure they don’t put cyclists and pedestrians at risk. The same rules apply for HGVs, who will also have to prioritise car users as well as the previously-mentioned road users ahead of themselves.

This means drivers will have more responsibility to look out for cyclists and pedestrians, while people in large vehicles will be expected to act with additional caution around all other road users.

Will pedestrians get priority now?

Pedestrians will now get priority at junctions, meaning drivers will have to wait for them to cross.

Vehicles previously had priority at junctions.

Cyclists will also be told to give way to pedestrians on shared-cycle paths.

Schematic of new junction priorities

How do the changes affect cyclists?

Drivers will now be expected to give priority to cyclists when turning in or out of a junction, or when changing lanes.

They will also be told to stop and wait for a safe distance between cyclists at roundabouts and in slow-moving traffic.

Drivers will be expected to leave a distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists.

Rule 186 now says: “Give them the 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. Drivers should take extra care when entering a roundabout to ensure that they do not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse-drawn vehicles in the left-hand lane, who are continuing around the roundabout.”


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