The Highway Code has been the official guide to using roads safely and legally for over 80 years now. First published in 1931, it is put together by the Department for Transport and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.
It is regularly updated and all road users, including:
- horse riders
should keep themselves updated on their knowledge of the Highway Code in order that they can follow rules and not commit offences.
Many of the Highway Code rules are legal requirements, and if you don’t obey these rules, you’re committing a criminal offence. This means you may be fined, given penalty points on your driving licence or you may even be disqualified from driving or imprisoned. Rules that are legal requirements include the words MUST or MUST NOT.
Rules that are not legal requirements will use words like should/should not or do/do not. You should aim to follow these rules where possible. Failing to follow these rules can be used in evidence against you in the event of an incident.
The Highway Code changed most recently on 29th January 2022, and in this blog, I will discuss the new changes.
15 new rules have been added or updated, within 10 sections of the Highway Code.
There are changes in 8 important areas:
- Introducing a new hierarchy of road users
- Crossing the road at junctions
- Walking, cycling or riding in shared spaces
- Positioning in the road when cycling
- Overtaking when driving or cycling
- Cycling at junctions
- People cycling, riding horses and driving horse-drawn vehicles on roundabouts
- Parking, charging and leaving vehicles
1. Hierarchy of road users
The new rules place road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy, which means that pedestrians are at the top of the hierarchy.
2. Pedestrians crossing the road at junctions
The new rules state that when people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, traffic should give way to them and allow them to cross.
People who are driving or riding a motorcycle or cycling must give way to people on a zebra crossing.
3. Walking cycling or riding in shared spaces
The new rules state that people riding a horse, or a bike should respect the safety of people walking in the same places.
Pedestrians should take care not to obstruct or endanger them, but people cycling are asked not to cycle past pedestrians or horse riders too closely or too quickly. Cyclists should slow down and let people know they are there, maybe by ringing their bell.
4. Positioning in the road when cycling
The new rules state that cyclists can ride in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slow moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road markings.
Cyclist should keep at least 0.5 metres away from the kerb edge, but further than this when it’s safe to do so, when riding on busy roads.
People who are cycling in groups should be considerate to the needs of other road users and allow them to overtake when it’s safe to do so.
The new rules confirm that it is safer and better practice to ride two abreast.
5. Overtaking when driving or cycling
The new rules give guidance on passing distances and speeds for people driving or riding a motorcycle while overtaking vulnerable road users.
Drivers and motorcycle riders should leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30 mph. They should give more space when overtaking at higher speeds.
Drivers and motorcyclists passing horse riders or people walking in the road should allow at least two metres of space.
If drivers and motorcyclists cannot leave two metres of space, they should wait behind until they can leave the safe clearance.
6. Cycling at junctions
The new Highway Code rule has been updated to clarify that when you’re turning into or out of a side road, cyclists should give way to people who are walking.
The code recommends that people cycling should proceed as if they were driving a vehicle when there are no separate cyclist facilities.
Cyclists going ahead at a junction have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of a side road, unless signs and road markings indicate otherwise.
7. People cycling or riding a horse on roundabouts
The new Highway Code rule clarifies that people driving or riding a motorcycle should give priority to people cycling on roundabouts.
They should not attempt to overtake people cycling within that person’s lane and they should allow people cycling to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout.
The Highway Code also explains that people cycling or riding a horse may stay in the left-hand lane of a roundabout even when they intend to turn right at the roundabout, and people riding a motorbike should take extra care and not cut across the cyclist or horse rider.
8. Parking, charging and leaving vehicles
The new Highway Code rules recommend a new technique when getting out of vehicles, sometimes called the ‘Dutch Reach’.
The Dutch reach means to use the opposite arm to open your door.
This means if you are in the driver seat and your right arm is closest to the door, you should reach across and use your left hand to open the door.
If you are in the passenger seat you should use your right arm to open the door.
Doing this will mean that you will turn your body slightly and make it easier to see over your shoulder before the door opens. You will notice pedestrians passing and cyclists passing, and you are much less likely to cause an incident.
Using this method to open the door will also give you more control of your door if it’s very windy and your door tries to fly open.
Using an electric vehicle charging point
This is the first time the Highway Code includes guidance on using electric vehicle charging points.
When using an electric vehicle charging point, people should park close to the charging point. This is to avoid creating a trip hazard for people who are walking past.
People charging a car should display a warning sign if possible. And people should return charging cables and connections neatly in order to not create an obstacle for other road users.
So, hopefully you will find this update useful and it allows you to see some small, but in some cases, significant changes.
For further help with your theory test, with all these new changes incorporated, you can buy our theory test course here: