Do you understand the new Highway Code?31 January 2022
New rules and changes to the Highway Code, which came into force on 29th January, have left many of us scratching our heads.
The major updates have been introduced following a public consultation on a 2020 review of the Highway Code to improve road safety for people walking, cycling and riding horses.
The consultation received more than 20,000 responses from the public, businesses and other organisations, with most responders in favour of all the changes.
We’re looking at some of the key changes you need to be aware of from gov.uk to help you out when it comes to refreshing your knowledge on the Highway Code:
Hierarchy of road users
One of the main changes is the requirement for drivers to give way to pedestrians at a junction, as the Government pushes ahead with its ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’, which was announced last year.
This new rule places more responsibility on the drivers of larger vehicles to look after more vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians – ie those most at risk in the event of a collision.
You’ll need to work out where in the hierarchy you sit depending on whether you’re driving (and what you’re driving), cycling, riding a horse or walking.
People crossing the road at junctions
The updated code states that:
1. When people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should give way
2. If people have started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, the people crossing have priority and the traffic should give way
3. People driving, riding a motorcycle or cycling must give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing (similar to a zebra crossing, but has a cycle route alongside the black and white stripes)
Parking, charging and leaving vehicles
The code recommends a new technique when leaving vehicles, sometimes known as the ‘Dutch reach’ as it was brought in by the Dutch 55 years ago.
Where drivers or passengers in a vehicle are able to do so, they should open the door using their hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. For example, using their left hand to open a door on their right-hand side.
This will make them turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them. They’re then less likely to cause injury to:
· People cycling or riding a motorcycle passing on the road
· People on the pavement
Using an electric vehicle charge point
For the first time, the Highway Code has included guidance about using electric vehicle charging points.
When using one, people should:
· Park close to the charge point and avoid creating a trip hazard for people walking from trailing cables
· Display a warning sign if you can
· Return charging cables and connectors neatly to minimise the danger to other people and avoid creating an obstacle for other road users
Positioning in the road when cycling
There’s some updated guidance for people cycling about positioning themselves which includes:
· Riding in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or when roads start to narrow
· Keeping at least 0.5 metres away from the kerb edge (and further where it is safer) when riding on busy roads with vehicles moving faster than them
People cycling in groups
The updated code also explains that people cycling in groups:
· Should be considerate of the needs of other road users when riding in groups
· Can ride two abreast – and it can be safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders
People cycling are asked to be aware of people driving behind them and allow them to overtake (for example, by moving into single file or stopping) when it’s safe to do so.
I think it’s safe to say that depending on when you passed your driving test, your Highway Code knowledge might not be the freshest it could be.
We recommend giving yourself chance to take in the changes to the Code (there’s more information available here) before you next head out in the car.
We’re just wondering about people crossing at junctions and giving way to them… is it just us that already does that?!