Two in three Brits Unaware of Planned changes to Highway Code

Many Brits are completely unaware of the changes that are coming for the Highway Code that are due to come into force at the end of January, many claims are coming in saying that transport ministers are “missing in action”. But what are the changes that are coming?

A Hierarchy of Road Users

The new and revamped code brings into effect a hierarchy of road users in which someone who poses a higher risk to others has a higher level of responsibility. 

This means someone cycling will have greater responsibility to look out for people walking, while someone driving will have greater responsibility to look out for people cycling, walking or riding a horse. Duncan Dollimore welcomed the changes but said they “will be of limited benefit if the public aren’t aware of them”. 

It is important to note that many of these changes are legal requirements and to disobey would be a criminal offence. They have also included some advisory measures (not legal requirements) that should be useful in avoiding any incidents:

  1. Should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which their vehicle is turning.
  2. Should not cut across cyclists or horse riders going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, to prevent “left hook” collisions.
  3. Should open car doors using the “Dutch reach” method, with the hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. This makes drivers turn their heads to look over their shoulders and reduces the likelihood of “dooring” a passing cyclist.
  4. Should leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph, and give them more space when overtaking at higher speeds.

But cyclists will also have to be aware, as the new regulations will bring in extra responsibility on the cyclist. They will have to give way to pedestrians on shared-use cycle tracks and to horse riders on bridleways and to slow down when necessary and let them know you are there, for example by ringing your bell or by calling out politely.

“Many people won’t have read the Highway Code for years, so it’s essential that the key changes are clearly explained, with simple, accurate and memorable messages." Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK's Head of Campaigns.

“With cyclists feeling increasingly unsafe, these are welcome changes, but they will be totally meaningless if the public don’t know anything about them. A comprehensive national safety campaign is needed to keep cyclists safe on our roads, but ministers are missing in action.” Louise Haigh, the Shadow Transport Secretary.

These new changes should make our roads a safer place for all no matter the mode of transport! 

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “The proposed upcoming changes to the Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders"

“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.”

If approved by parliament, the changes to the Highway Code will come into force on 29 January 2022.

Posted 10/01/2022 Back to Blog

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