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The Highway Code was amended on 29 January 2022 following a government consultation.  The amendment sets out a ‘hierarchy of road users’ that prioritises those most at risk on our roads.  It means those who do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they pose to others.

The changes to the Highway Code were met with mixed enthusiasm from the media but, despite the sensationalist headlines declaring chaos on Britain’s roads, a recent AA survey suggests that 61% of drivers have not read new guidance on the changes. That means there is a high percentage of drivers who remain unaware of the greater priorities that vulnerable road users – such as pedestrians, horse riders, and motorcyclists – should rightly have.

It puts into perspective just how important Brake’s Road Safety Week is. This year, the theme of the week is “safe roads for all”, which is bringing together communities and professionals to shout out for everyone’s right to make safe and healthy journeys on safe roads. It aims to raise awareness of key areas of road safety the Government supports, including the new hierarchy of road users.

So, it’s time to do our part and, if you haven’t yet, get to know the Highway Code changes so you can understand how to better protect yourself and other road users.

What are the changes to the Highway Code?

A summary of the major changes include:

  • A hierarchy of road users with most care expected from the people who can do most damage.
  • Pedestrians waiting to cross at a road junction have right of way over vehicles turning in.
  • Cyclists should ride at least 0.5 metres from the kerb and can adopt the centre of their lane on quiet roads.
  • Cyclists may pass slower vehicles on the left or right and vehicles must give way to them when turning.
  • Drivers and riders in slow moving traffic should allow pedestrians and cyclists to pass in front of them.
  • Cyclists on a roundabout can ride in the left or right-hand lanes and move left when approaching their junction. The cyclist should position themselves in the centre of the lane and signal right to indicate that they are not leaving the roundabout.
  • Motorists should give way to cyclists in a cycle lane even when approaching from behind and drivers should await a safe gap before turning across a cycle lane.
  • Road users should open their door using the ‘Dutch Reach’ method to reduce the risk of ‘dooring’ cyclists and motorcyclists.
  • Rather than waiting for pedestrians to enter a zebra crossing, as it used to be the case, the new rules stipulate that drivers should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross and must give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing.
  • If cyclists are going straight ahead at a junction, they have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of the side road, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise.
  • Regarding the use of clothing for cyclists, this Highway Code has been amended to state that evidence suggests wearing a cycle helmet will reduce risk of sustaining a head injury in certain circumstances.

You can find full guidance on the Highway Code changes on the gov.uk website.