The Highway Code changes you need to know

Published 28 January 2022
in Advice
The Highway Code changes you need to know

From the 29th January new additions to the Highway Code will come into force and there are some key things you should be aware of.  The changes are essentially creating a ‘hierarchy’, giving priority to road users who are more vulnerable.  Car drivers are now 5th on the list of priority, with top priority given to pedestrians, then cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists.

The key things you need to be aware of:

THE ‘DUTCH REACH’:

You’ve probably seen this concept in news titles recently.  The ‘Dutch reach’ method is being introduced to protect cyclists passing your vehicle when you exit.  Use your opposite hand to open your door – which allows you to naturally look over your shoulder and ensure no cyclists are in danger from your door opening.

ROUNDABOUTS:

Priority is now given to cyclists at roundabouts – they will be travelling at a slower speed and you should not attempt to overtake them within their lane.  Cyclists, horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles may stay in the left-hand lane when going across or round a roundabout, and should signal right to advise other vehicles of this. 

PRIORITY TO CYCLISTS:

In some situations, cyclists are now able to ride in the middle of the road, to ensure they are as visible as possible.  On quieter roads the cyclist should move to the left to allow a vehicle to pass, if it is safe to do so.  They are also able to be in the middle when on a narrow road or on the approach to a junction, when it would be unsafe to overtake.

When overtaking a cyclist you must ensure there is at least 1.5 m of space at speeds of up to 30 mph.  If driving faster than this then you should allow for a greater gap.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES:

Drivers are asked to ensure you are parked as close to a charging point as possible.  Charging cables should be moved to ensure they don’t present a trip hazard, and it’s recommended to use a warning sign if appropriate. 

MOBILE PHONE USE:

You are not allowed to use a mobile phone when at the wheel at any point.  This includes when stuck in traffic or stopped at a red light.  The only exceptions are if using your device to pay for something at a drive-through or at a toll, but while stationery.  If caught using it to scroll through messages or find a playlist, you could be fined £200 and receive up to 6 penalty points. 

For those new to driving, if you are caught doing any of the above within 2-years of passing your test, you will lose your licence. 

SIGNALS AND POSITION:

Drivers now need to fully give way to both pedestrians and cyclists.  If a pedestrian is waiting to cross at a junction, and you are turning into that road; drivers must now give way to them.  If you are stuck in traffic or moving slowly you must also give way to them.

Ultimately you should ensure you are a safe and courteous driver at all times.  The above is set as guidance only, for full information please visit the UK Government Department for Transport website.