Key changes to the Highway Code you need to know

Highway Code
Legally reviewed by: Kevin Waddingham In: Motoring Offences

A number of important changes to the Highway Code came into force at the end of January that many road users may not be aware of.

In this article, our motoring offence experts are going to bring you up to speed with some of the key changes that have been introduced by the Department of Transport (DfT).

Hierarchy of road users

The most significant change is a refreshed hierarchy of road users has been introduced, where those who can do the greatest harm (drivers of large vehicles) have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they pose to other road users.

Here’s a look at what the hierarchy of road users looks like:

  1. Pedestrians
  2. Cyclists
  3. Horse riders
  4. Motorcyclists
  5. Cars/taxis
  6. Vans/minibuses
  7. Large passenger vehicles/heavy goods vehicles

The DfT believe this system will pave the way for a ‘more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use’. Those towards the top of the hierarchy are reminded in the Highway Code that they still need to consider the safety of other road users.

Clearer and stronger priorities for pedestrians

 The new rule focuses on motorists, horse riders and cyclists. The Highway Code now clearly states that at a junction you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road that you are turning into.

Drivers should also give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing (a combined pedestrian and cycle crossing).

Cyclists should give way to pedestrians on shared-use cycle tracks. They are also reminded that only pedestrians (including those using wheelchairs and mobility scooters) can use the pavement.

Pedestrians are allowed to use cycle tracks unless there’s a road sign nearby that says doing so is prohibited.

 Drivers to give priority to cyclists in certain situations

The updated Highway Code urges drivers and motorcyclists not to cut across cyclists when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane. 

This rule applies whether the cyclist ahead is using a cycle lane, a cycle track or simply riding on the road ahead.

Drivers are supposed to stop and wait for a safe gap when cyclists are:

  • Approaching, passing or moving away from a junction
  • Moving past or waiting alongside still or slow-moving traffic
  • Travelling on a roundabout

How we can help

Whilst some of the Highway Code is guidance rather than laws, there are some legal requirements, which mean you’re committing a criminal offence if you disobey them.

If you are charged with a motoring offence, get in touch with our dedicated motoring offence solicitors who have a proven track record of protecting the driving licences of many British motorists. We’ll do everything we can to clear you of wrongdoing or minimise action against you.

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Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.