Changes to the Highway Code

Major changes are being made to the Highway Code on the 29th January 2022 and all road users are being strongly encouraged to read the new rules. There is new focus around a ‘road hierarchy’ designed to give vulnerable road users a greater degree of protection and clarity provided over who has right of way at junctions.

Rule H1

Gives a hierarchy of road users putting those most at risk at the top and those least risk towards the end. The hierarchy will be as follows;

  1. Pedestrians (in particular children, elderly adults and those with disabilities)
  2. Cyclists
  3. Horse riders
  4. Motorcyclists
  5. Cars
  6. Vans/minibuses
  7. Large passenger vehicles/HGVs

Rule H2

Provides stronger priority for pedestrians at junctions and clarity of who has right of way.

The new rule states that instead of cars having priority when they turn left or right into junctions, pedestrians crossing the road will now have priority over those vehicles.

Rule H3

States that drivers must give priority to cyclists in a variety of situations.

Most importantly, when cyclists are at junctions they ought to have priority in almost every scenario.

The rule also gives guidance to cycle in the middle of the lane in certain situations rather than on the left hand side to allow themselves to be more visible, and advises drivers that cyclists may even occasionally ride two or three abreast to make themselves safer.

Other rules and changes

Drivers are reminded to leave larger gaps in icy situations.

The rules now make a provision for drivers getting a good nights sleep before embarking on lengthy journeys.

And when parked, passengers and drivers are encouraged to apply the “Dutch Reach” method, which is opening the door with the opposing hand as that forces the person to turn their body thereby looking over their shoulder, making motorcyclists and cyclists more visible.

For a full list of the rule changes, consider the government website below;

We strongly advise all drivers to read the changes to the rules make sure knowledge of the Highway Code is as up to date as it can be. Not following the Code is not automatically an offence, but it is a fantastic place to start and as it says, it is essential reading for everyone.

Prosecutions for driving without due care and attention (careless driving – 3-9 penalty points) are occasionally brought purely on the basis that a defendant is in breach of a provision of the Highway Code, and the general rule of the Court is that a defendant should be convicted in the absence of any other explanation.

However where the defendant provides an explanation for the breach of the Code, the prosecution must disprove it if they want to secure a conviction.

There are examples of cases decided by the High Court where the defendant has been in breach of the Highway Code yet has been found not guilty, however it is always our advice to familiarise yourselves with the Highway Code and follow it as best as possible, as this will certainly give you the best chance of avoiding collisions and prosecution.