Changes to the Highway Code 29th January 2022
There have been several changes and over 50 rules updated: you can find out more here. This is a summary of the changes that impact car drivers although it's worth reading through all the changes so you're aware of what to do when walking, cycling or horse riding and what to expect from more vulnerable road users when you're driving. Please note: the Highway Code website has all the latest rules, a new book version will be printed later this year.
There is a new hierarchy of road users - those who can do the greatest harm, have the greatest responsibility (although everyone has a responsibility to keep themselves and others safe).
Large goods/passenger vehicles (e.g. lorries, buses and coaches)
It's worth noting here that the words used in the Highway Code are very important. Anything that is MUST or MUST NOT is backed up by law, anything that is SHOULD or SHOULD NOT is guidance.
When pedestrians are crossing/waiting to cross at a junction and we wish to turn into or out of that road, we should give way to the pedestrians. A risk assessment must be made and it's expected that you will stop if it's safe to do so. It may be necessary to approach junctions at a slower speed so you can reduce the risk from following traffic. We must also give way to pedestrians at zebra crossings and pedestrians and cyclists at parallel crossings. If anyone is waiting to cross at a zebra or parallel crossing then we should give way.
At roundabouts, cyclists and horse riders are encouraged to use the left hand lane regardless of which exit they're taking and we should allow them to cross lanes as necessary, hold back rather than try and pass them on a roundabout.
When getting out of a vehicle we should use the 'Dutch Reach' technique - this means using the opposite hand to open a door (your left hand if you're driving). This means you will look over your shoulder and reduce the risk of opening your door into the path of a cyclist.
Several rules have changed about overtaking and there is an emphasis on not passing vulnerable road users if you cannot give them sufficient space. Remember, cyclists can pass on both sides when overtaking so ensure you are fully aware what is happening to the sides of you by regularly checking your mirrors.
- When passing a cyclist at less than 30mph, give them at least 1.5m of space with extra space if you're travelling faster.
- When passing a horse and rider or horse-drawn vehicle, you should be travelling at less than 10mph and give them at least 2m of space.
- When passing pedestrians walking on the road (e.g. where there's no pavement), give them at least 2m of space and travel at slow speed.
Cyclists have been advised to change the position that they ride in so they're more visible. This fits in with the Bikeability training that many young cyclists are given.
I will of course be incorporating these changes into lessons and am happy to answer any questions that you may have. Many people on the roads will be unaware of the new changes or think they understand them when actually they have misinterpreted them or relied on someone else to tell them what's changed. In view of this, we all need to be careful on the roads however we are travelling during what is likely to be an adjustment period.