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8 changes you need to know about the Highway Code

Changes will be made to The Highway Code from Saturday 29 January 2022, following a review of the Highway Code last year, with the aim to improve road safety for people walking, cycling and riding horses.

The review was followed by a public consultation, which ran from July to October 2020, and received more than 20,000 responses from members of the public, businesses and organisations. Most of the people who responded were in favour of the changes.

Eight changes come into force Saturday 29th January 2022, which are:

1 – Hierarchy of road users

The hierarchy of road users is found in the introduction section of the Highway Code and is used to rank which road users are most at risk in the event of a collision – users most at risk are placed higher in the list.

This new hierarchy encourages mutual respect and consideration of others, to help keep all road users safe and, despite what some critics have suggested, doesn’t mean that pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders are prioritised in every situation.

2 – Pedestrians crossing the road at junctions

Under the updated code, when pedestrians are waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should give way. Road users should also give way when pedestrians have already started to cross a road and when at a zebra or parallel crossing.

3 – Walking, cycling and riding in shared spaces

Cyclist and horse riders should respect the safety of pedestrians and should not pass them closely, or at high speed, when in shared public spaces.

Specifically for people cycling, cyclists should remember to slow down when passing walkers, those riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle and not to pass a horse on the horse’s left. In addition, to let pedestrians know they are near (for example, by ringing their bell) and to remember pedestrians may be deaf, blind or partially sighted.

4 – Positioning in the road when cycling

Cyclists are now recommended to ride in the centre of their lane on quieter roads, in slow-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowings. They are also advised to keep at least half-a-metre away from kerbs when riding on busy roads and where traffic is moving faster than them.

Other guidance that has been updated includes instructions on passing parked vehicles and information regarding people cycling in groups.

5 – Overtaking when cycling or driving

New guidance in the Highway Code advises on what distances are deemed safe for vehicles to pass more vulnerable road users.

For example, cars and HGVs should allow at least two metres distance between them and pedestrians walking in the road – such as when there is no pavement.

6 – People cycling at junctions

The updated code recommends that cyclists should proceed at junctions as if they were in a vehicle (such as a car, HGV, or motorbike) where there are no separate cyclists facilities. This includes positioning themselves in the centre of the road.

These rules will help cyclists be more visible to other road users and help them avoid being overtaken where this would otherwise be dangerous.

7 – People cycling and horse riding on roundabouts

Updated rules mean that people driving a motorcycle should give way to cyclists on roundabouts.

This includes motorcyclists to not attempt to overtake people cycling within their lane and allowing cyclists to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout.

8 – Parking, charging and leaving vehicles

The Highway Code now recommends a new technique called the ‘Dutch Reach’ to be used when leaving a vehicle.

The Dutch Reach can be performed by opening the door of a vehicle using their hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. For example, a driver exiting a right-hand drive vehicle from their driving seat using their left hand to open their door.

This movement makes people exiting a vehicle turn their head and look over their shoulder, helping to eliminate any dangers coming from behind.

Other guidance in this category includes information around trip hazards when charging electric vehicles and minimising dangers for people who may use an electric vehicle charging point after them.

To learn more about the changes, listen to the Driver Hire podcast.

 

For the full list of changes, please visit the Government’s website.

Tips for Winter Driving

We’re fully immersed into the colder, Winter months and are starting to see flurries of snow across the UK. To help you stay safe behind the wheel, we have pulled together these top tips on keeping road-safe when driving in wintery weather conditions.

 1. Full vehicle inspection

Winter conditions can really take a toll on your vehicle. Adding a few additional steps to your routine before you set off on a journey is important in ensuring you’re kept safe on the road whilst also helping to prevent a breakdown.

Lorry checks

Your daily walk around check is an essential start to the professional driver’s day at every time of the year, but never more so than during the winter months. As well as checking your usual seating position, tyres, electrics, fluid levels, driving controls and mirrors in your pre-journey walk around, you should also be on the lookout for corrosion around any battery terminals and suzie couplings which can be affected by the colder weather. If it has been snowing also be sure to check your exhaust is clear of snow, and if you have a tail lift, it’s also a good idea to check for any snow build up.

Always remember, the walk round check is designed to answer these questions:

  • Does everything work?
  • Is everything secure?
  • Will you have proper control over your vehicle?
  • Is anything damaged or missing?
  • Does the vehicle create a nuisance?
  • Could anything on the vehicle harm anyone?

Car check

Before setting off on a journey, you should take extra care in ensuring your car is fit for purpose. In bad weather, it is recommended that you have at least 3mm of grip on your tyres to give you the traction you need on icy and wet surfaces. You should also check your antifreeze levels in preparation for the colder months weather. Frozen and cracked engines can cost up to £2,600* to fix (for a new engine to be fitted). To protect your engine you need a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water in winter, this will then protect your engine at temperatures as low as -34C.

Furthermore, roads can become extremely dirty during winter so it’s imperative to ensure your visibility is not going to be affected by this, firstly you should check your wiper blades are still intact and doing the job they should be, ensuring the blades are not split. Alongside this you should also check your screen wash levels and make sure you have a product that is effective down to at least -15C as this will help rid the windscreen of both ice and dirt.

2. Driving in bad conditions

Driving in extreme weather conditions should be avoided, however, this isn’t always possible. Remember these points for driving in torrential rain, fog, and snow:

Driving in Rain

One of the biggest risks when driving in rain is aquaplaning, where a layer of water builds up between your tyres and the surface of the road. If your vehicle starts to aquaplane, do not brake, instead just remove your foot from the accelerator and allow your car to slow down gradually.

Driving in Fog

Make sure you are using your fog lights only if visibility is less than 100 metres, if you can see further then use your dipped headlights instead. Fog can also be patchy, so if it starts to clear up, do not see this as a sign to speed up – you could easily run back into the fog a few miles down the road.

Driving in Snow and Ice

If you can’t hear any noises coming from the road, the chances are you could be driving on ice, if you are, do not brake as this will make you skid further. Always ensure that if it has been snowing and roads could possibly be icy, accelerate gently and change up to higher gears as quickly and safely as you can.

3. Create space

Always leave more than enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you, this is your safety buffer. When roads are wet it takes twice as long to stop, and ten times longer if the roads are icy – so be mindful of your distance!

4. Lights on!

Although some vehicles do have automatic lights, it’s always important to check they’re on and that you’re visible. It may not be overly dark, but bad weather can make you less visible to traffic.

If it has been snowing and you’ve removed the snow from your windows, make sure you’re also cleaning snow from your front and back lights so other vehicles can still see them. According to the Highway Code lights, indicators, reflectors as well as number plates must be kept clean and clear, if not fines can be given out.

5. Keep your car clean

Dirty roads are more common in winter, and this dirt can very quickly build up dirt on your vehicle. It’s important to make sure that you’re still cleaning it, especially around your licence plates as drivers can be fined up £1,000**for driving with number plates that cannot be clearly read.

6. Carry some old carpet

If you do get stuck on some ice or in snow, putting some old carpet (or anything of this nature) under the driving wheels will help in giving them something to grip on to and to get you moving again.

7. Be prepared and carry essentials

Make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality and direction the weather could take. You should consider carrying items such as: an ice scraper, de-icer, torch, spare batteries, first aid kid, extra thermal layers, dry spare shoes, shovel, jump leads, warning triangles, sunglasses, and a charger for your phone.

Richard Owen-Hughes, Group Marketing Manager, said “The Winter months can throw many hurdles when it comes to driving in extreme weather conditions that we’re not as used to in the UK. It’s important to always make sure that your vehicle is in a fit state to be driven by giving it a full check down, looking at the likes of coolant and tyre treads, as well as just making sure you take extra care whilst behind the wheel.”