All the Highway Code changes coming into effect this week 6 months ago

All the Highway Code changes coming into effect this week

Three new rules will added to the Highway Code in the coming weeks

From January 29, fresh rules will be introduced in the Highway Code with the aim of protecting cyclists and pedestrians.

The rules are part of a wider effort to introduce a road user hierarchy on Britain's roads, which will place more responsibility on drivers of large vehicles to reduce danger posed to others.

However according to a poll conducted by the AA, a third of drivers are unaware that the Highway Code is being revamped, with four per cent saying they have "no intention" of looking at the details of the changes.

Here are the major changes you should be aware of...

Rule H1: Hierarchy of road users

This is the most significant alteration, with road users now split into a hierarchy. The theory is simple: road users with the potential to cause the most harm have more responsibility to reduce the threat they pose to others.

Pedestrians - particularly children, older adults and disabled people - are therefore identified as "the most likely to be injured in the event of a collision.” Conversely, drivers will have more responsibility to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.

Figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) show 4,290 pedestrians and 4,700 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads from 2020 to June 2021.

Pedestrians sit at the top of the hierarchy, followed by cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists, cars, vans and large passenger or heavy goods vehicles.

A DfT spokesperson said: “The proposed upcoming changes to the Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and were announced to national press.

“The department has established a working group of key organisations to ensure that messages about the changes are as widespread as possible and our well-established Think! campaign will continue to ensure all road users are aware both when these changes come into effect and beyond.”

Rule H2: Priorities for pedestrians

At a junction, drivers and motorcyclists must give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross.

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Previously, vehicles were given priority at intersections.

This rule also means that cyclists should give way to pedestrians on shared-cycle tracks

Rule H3: Drivers to give priority to cyclists in certain situations eg on a roundabout

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The new rules urge drivers and motorcyclists to give priority to cyclists when turning in or out of a junction or changing lanes.

Drivers are also encouraged to stop and wait for a safe distance between cyclists at roundabouts or during slow-moving traffic.

Two of the other key changes include guidance for drivers to leave a distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists and motorists being encouraged to reduce the risk of an accident by opening their door by using the hand on the opposite side.

Known as the 'Dutch reach' technique, it helps drivers to look over their shoulder for any cyclists that may be passing by their vehicle. Under this new law, people could face fines of £1,000 for opening their car door with the wrong hand.

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