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8 changes you need to know about the Highway Code

31 January 2022

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.