Highway Code Changes Introduces Hierarchy

Rules relating to all types of road users have undergone some major updates in The Highway Code.

The government has introduced the recent changes to help improve everyone’s safety on the road especially those who are more vulnerable such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and people riding horses.

The Highway Code also has some suggestions for drivers to implement to be more aware and further help improve road safety. Here is a rundown of some of the key new rules and recommendations within The Highway Code.

Rule H1

This rule establishes a hierarchy of those who are most at risk when involved in road accidents. This puts more responsibility on drivers of larger vehicles. The hierarchy of road users puts those most at risk on the top of the list and those least towards the end of the list.

1. Pedestrians

2. Cyclists

3. Horse riders

4. Motorcyclists

5. Car

6. Vans/minibuses

7. Large passenger vehicles/HGVs

The rule also specifies that cyclists and horse riders also have a responsibility to look out for pedestrians and consider their safety.

Rule H2

This rule is for all drivers, including those who ride motorbikes, horse riders and cyclists and states: “At a Junction you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.”

This rule allows the priority of pedestrian safety at junctions and clarifies who has right of way. Vehicles and cyclists will need to give right of way to pedestrians crossing at junctions.

Drivers must give way to pedestrians waiting at a zebra crossing and give way to any pedestrians and cyclists wanting to cross a parallel crossing.

Rule H3

Drivers must give priority to cyclists in a variety of situations. For example, cyclists at junctions will have priority over vehicles turning by allowing a safe gap between the driver and cyclist. Guidance also now tells cyclists to ride in the middle of the lane in certain situations rather than the left-hand side as it’ll allow them to be more visible, as well telling drivers to give at least 1.5 meters between themselves and cyclists.

Suggestions to road users

Alongside these new rules, the Highway Code has also updated and made changes to existing rules and suggested tips and reminders of existing rules of the road for road users to adhere by.
Drivers are reminded to leave larger gaps in icy situations and must make sure they have a good night’s sleep before embarking on lengthy journeys.

When leaving a parked vehicle, drivers, and any passengers are encouraged to apply the “The Dutch Reach” which is opening the door with the opposing hand to it. This effectively forces you to twist your body and thereby look over your shoulder making motorcyclists and cyclists more visible.

Cyclists are expected to be riding in the centre of the lane in order to be seen more clearly by vehicles on the road.

A full summary of the changes are available on the Gov.uk website here.