The Highway Code is set to change on the 29th January, with eight new rules being introduced as well as 49 revisions to existing rules. Among the changes is a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ that will prioritise vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians, over larger motorised vehicles.
The Highway Code’s new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’, states that greater responsibility must be taken by road users when sharing the road with the most vulnerable road users. Another major amendment states drivers should stop and give way to pedestrians waiting to cross the road before turning into or out of junctions and also cyclists going straight ahead. The final major change will be establishing guidance on safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking cyclists or horse riders.
What are the 2022 Highway Code changes as proposed?
Rule H1: New Hierarchy of Road Users (illustrated below) 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, buses, 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
Drivers and motorcyclists 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.
Please note: Many of the rules in the Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence, or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison. Such rules are identified by the use of the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’.
Although failure to comply with the other rules of the Code will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted, The Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts to establish liability. This includes rules which use advisory wording such as ‘should/should not’ or ‘do/do not’.
Full changes to The Highway Code can be found here.