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Highway code update to introduce new “hierarchy of road users”

Changes to the Highway Code will introduce a new “hierarchy of road users” and are set to come into effect from January 29, 2022.

The 2022 Highway Code revisions also include a new priority for pedestrians at junctions and for cyclists when cars are turning.

Van Life Matters understands that there’s no official plan to communicate the changes until they come into force later this month and the Department for Transport (DfT) has said some of the new Highway Code wording still needs to be finalised.

Highway code changes explained

Rule H1: New Hierarchy of Road Users. Drivers of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger to others.

This principle applies most strongly to drivers of HGVs, LGVs, cars/taxis and motorcycles.

Cyclists and horse riders likewise have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians.

Rule H2: New priority for pedestrians at junctions. At a junction, drivers, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.

You should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing (currently you only have to give way if they’re already on the crossing), and to pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing.

Rule H3: New priority for cyclists when cars are turning. You should not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles going ahead when you are turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane.

This applies whether they are using a cycle lane, a cycle track, or riding ahead on the road and you should give way to them.

Do not turn at a junction if to do so would cause the cyclist, horse rider or horse drawn vehicle going straight ahead to stop or swerve.

You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary.

AA president, Edmund King, said: “The upcoming changes to the Highway Code are a reminder that all road users have a responsibility to look after one another, in particular the most vulnerable ones: pedestrian, cyclists, other two-wheeled transport and horse riders.

“The encouragement of more ‘active travel’ and a boom in deliveries by people on bicycles has transformed road use to some extent, and the Highway Code needed to be updated to reflect that.

“As most people do not read the Highway Code once they have passed their test, all drivers will need to ensure they read and understand the new rules before they become live in January.”

At least two in three drivers were unaware of the changes before Christmas, according to the AA, which polled 13,000 of its members on the subject.

Related: New insurance rules to protect motorists against rising costs

Neil Greig, policy director at IAM RoadSmart said: “The new Highway Code will increase conflict on the road rather than reduce it.

“Informing every road user in the UK about the new rules will be a huge task particularly when most drivers think they are competent and don’t need to refresh their skills.

“Getting the communications right will be critical when some cyclists start exercising their new rights to undertake traffic and put themselves at risk.

“Vulnerable road users deserve the highest protection from motorised vehicles but simply changing a book no one reads is unlikely to deliver the impact hoped for.

“In our view investment in segregated facilities remains the best way to encourage people to consider active travel as a real alternative.”

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