Highway Code changes: All you need to know

Posted on Thursday 3rd February 2022 in News

Changes to The Highway Code designed to enhance safety for all road-users – particularly those most at risk –  and have come into effect from 29 January 2022.

The introduction of a Hierarchy of Road Users has been introduced to ensure that road users who pose the greatest risk have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others on the road. The objective of the Hierarchy of Road Users is not to give priority to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in every situation, but rather to ensure a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users. This doesn’t detract from the requirements for everyone to behave responsibly.

Key changes include:

  • A new Hierarchy of Road Users has been introduced to ensure those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.
  • Existing rules on pedestrian priority have been updated to advise that drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road.
  • Guidance has been provided on cyclist priority at junctions to advise drivers to give priority to cyclists when they are travelling straight ahead.
  • Guidance has been established on safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking cyclists and horse riders.

Cyclists will also receive fresh guidance to ride in the centre of a lane on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions in order to make themselves as clearly visible as possible. They’ll also be reminded they can ride 2 abreast – as has always been the case and which can be safer in large groups or with children – but they must be aware of drivers behind them and allow them to overtake if it is safe to do so.

Meanwhile, motorists will be encouraged to adopt the so-called ‘Dutch Reach’, opening the door next to them with the opposite hand so they look over their shoulder, meaning they’re less likely to injure passing cyclists and pedestrians.

The government’s changes will be supported by a national THINK! campaign raising awareness of the changes and ensuring road-users across the country understand their responsibilities.

The new updates are advisory, so non-compliance will not result in a fine. SSRP will continue to champion best practice and encourage all road users to share the roads responsibly.

See an explanation of 8 of the most significant changes.

For further information on the Highway Code, and for help understanding how these changes may impact road use across Sussex, get in touch with the SSRP team here