Revised Highway Code formalises existing best practice on the roads

The updates to the code will take effect this Saturday. Some new rules are being introduced, while others are being worded more clearly.

Pedestrians cross a side road
Photo by Waldemar Brandt / Unsplash

We look forward to the amended code improving priority for walking and cycling around Headington but, although the revisions will take effect at the end of this week, the government’s campaign to raise awareness of the changes isn’t planned to start until mid-February. With less than a week to go, an AA poll revealed an alarming 33% of drivers don’t know about the changes.

Unfortunately, this void of clear information from the Department of Transport has been filled with some misleading coverage in the media as implementation approaches. You can read about which of the changes introduce new rules, as opposed to merely clarifying or reinforcing existing ones, in this article by Peter Walker.

Key new elements

Auto Express provides a helpful summary of the key new rules as follows:

  • Rule H1: New Hierarchy of Road Users
    Drivers 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 to others. This principle applies most strongly to drivers of HGVs, LGVs, cars/taxis and motorcycles. Cyclists and horse riders likewise have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians.

  • Rule H2: New priority for pedestrians at junctions
    At a junction, drivers, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning. You should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing (currently you only have to give way if they’re already on the crossing), and to pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing.

  • Rule H3: New priority for cyclists when cars are turning
    You should 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. This applies whether they are using a cycle lane, a cycle track, or riding ahead on the road and you should give way to them. Do not turn at a junction if to do so would cause the cyclist, horse rider or horse drawn vehicle going straight ahead to stop or swerve. You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary.

This series of clips from Better Ealing Streets also outlines the main updates:

You can view the government’s full table of changes and clarifications here.

Further reading:

the Highway Code changes for 2022: are you aware of the new rules? – Which? News
An update to The Highway Code has introduced a hierarchy of road users, which creates ‘clearer and stronger priorities’ for pedestrians. The Department for Transport claims that the changes…