2022 Highway Code Changes: How Do They Affect Motorists?

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The official guide to using the nation’s roads, the Highway Code, has been around since 1931. Our roads (and the vehicles that use them) have changed beyond recognition since then, and the Highway Code has been continually revised to keep pace. Today’s Highway Code has over 150 pages. The original had just 18!

January 2022 saw the introduction of further changes. Some proved controversial, despite receiving a mostly positive response in a public consultation which ran from July to October 2020.

A whole host of tweaks and refinements were announced, but below are the core rules you need to know as a motorist.

Hierarchy of road users
Amended Rules: H1, H2 & H3

  • A new system ranking road users in terms of their risk level in the event of an accident.
  • The aim is to ensure that everyone considers the safety of others when they’re using the road – whether they’re crossing it on foot or driving a vehicle.
  • Road users should be considerate and understand that they’re responsible for the safety of others.

Pedestrians crossing the road
Amended Rules: H2, 8, 19, 170, 195 & 206

  • If a pedestrian is waiting to cross the road at a junction, motorists must give way to them.
  • If someone is crossing the road when you turn into it, they will have priority. You must wait and let them cross.
  • Motorists must give way to those using a zebra crossing or parallel crossing.

Cyclist positioning
Amended Rules: 67 & 213

  • Although these rules are aimed at cyclists, they will affect you as a motorist.
  • Cyclists are now encouraged to ride in the centre of their lane ‘on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowings.’
  • When traffic is heavier, cyclists are expected to keep at least 0.5m away from the kerb.
  • Those cycling in groups should be ‘considerate of the needs of other road users’ but are allowed to ride two abreast.

Overtaking cyclists and horse riders
Amended Rules: 67, 76, 163, 212 & 215

  • You can cross a double white line to overtake, provided the horse rider or cyclist is travelling 10 mph or less.
  • When you’re travelling at up to 30 mph and overtaking a cyclist, you should leave a gap of at least 1.5m. The higher the speed, the bigger the gap.
  • If you’re passing pedestrians and there’s no pavement, you should leave a 2m gap.
  • Cyclists are allowed to pass slow-moving vehicles on either the left or right side.

Opening your car’s door and charging an EV
Amended Rules: 239

  • When you’re opening your door you should, if possible, use the ‘Dutch Reach’ method. This means pulling the door handle with your left hand (if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat) and looking over your shoulder out the window while doing so, making sure no one is moving past your car.
  • The aim is to minimise the risk of injury to passing pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
  • If you drive an electric vehicle, you’ll have guidance to follow when using a charging point. You’re now expected to park close to the charging point to avoid creating a trip hazard with the charging cable, display a warning sign if possible, and return charging cables and connectors carefully.

All in all, 50 rules were added or updated in the January 2022 refresh. You can read the full version online on the Government website.

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