Changes to the Highway Code (motorways)
There are lots of changes coming to the Highway Code over the next few months. From 14th September, the first changes were introduced which relate to motorways. Remember, you can find the Highway Code for free online at www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code. A new version will be printed next year, but the latest rules are always available online. This is a summary of the changes that have recently come into force.
New information has been provided about emergency refuge areas (found on some smart motorways without a hard shoulder or with a part-time hard shoulder). These look similar to the lay-bys found on dual carriageways but with a very important difference. Emergency areas are for EMERGENCIES ONLY, they are not for taking a break. The Highway Code now makes it clear that if you are able to do so, you need to get to a place of relative safety. The best place is a service area, then a lay-by or emergency area (if available), then finally a hard shoulder.
Updated advice has been given about what to do in the event of an emergency (remember: get left, get safe and get help) and what is a good idea to carry in your vehicle in case of breakdowns. Remember that prevention is better than cure, so do appropriate checks before you set off to minimise the risk of a breakdown. There is also advice about how to rejoin the motorway safely once you are able to do so.
Clearer information has been given about towing on a motorway (note: this may change again when the law changes around towing soon, look out on my blog for more on that later in the year). Images have been added to rule 124 to make people aware of the types of speed enforcement (cameras) used. More information has been given about tailgating and other offences and which lanes should be used for overtaking as well as the rules around learner drivers on motorways (they can only drive on a motorway if accompanied by an approved driving instructor in a vehicle with dual controls). Signs on motorways (especially smart motorways) seem to cause confusion for a lot of drivers, especially when there are red ‘X’s’ above lanes, more information has been provided to ensure people understand how to follow the signs correctly and safely.
It’s important to keep up to date with changes to the Highway Code, you can sign up online to receive updates via email or follow them on social media.