CHANGES TO THE HIGHWAY CODE FOR 2022
4 February 2022 by Rhian Lowe
As of Saturday 29 January 2022 there have been significant changes to the Highway Code with the aim of improving the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. These changes arise from a public consultation which ran from July to October 2020 and which received more than 20,000 responses.
The key changes or clarifications in the updated Code are as follows:-
Hierarchy of Road Users
The introduction section of the Highway Code has been updated to include three new rules about the new “hierarchy of road users”.
The hierarchy places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of hierarchy. It does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly. The idea of this is for drivers of larger vehicles to look after more vulnerable road users. It does not give priority to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in every situation but aims to encourage more mutual respect.
People Crossing the Road at Junctions
The updated Code clarifies that:
- When people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should give way
- If people have started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, the people crossing have priority and the traffic should give way
- People driving, riding a motorcycle or cycling must give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing
Walking, Cycling or Riding in Shared Spaces
People cycling, riding a horse or driving a horse drawn vehicle should respect the safety of people walking in these spaces, but people walking should also take care not to obstruct or endanger them. People cycling are asked to:
- Not pass people walking, riding a horse or driving a horse drawn vehicle closely or at high speed, particularly from behind
- Slow down when necessary and let people walking know they are there (for example, ringing their bell)
- Remember that people walking may be deaf, blind or partially sighted
- Not pass a horse on the horse’s left
Positioning in the Road When Cycling
Cyclists should ride in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower moving traffic and when approaching junctions. They should keep at least 0.5m from the kerb when riding on busy roads. Cyclists should be considerate of the needs of others when riding in groups but can ride two abreast. Cyclists should also take care when passing parked vehicles and leave enough room to avoid being hit if a car door is opened.
Overtaking When Driving or Cycling
Updated guidance on safe passing distances to include:
- Leaving at least 1.5m when overtaking people cycling when driving up to 30mph and more if faster
- Passing horse riders or horse drawn vehicles of speeds under 10mph and allowing at least two metres of space
- Allowing at least two metres of space in keeping to a low speed when passing people walking in the road
- People cycling may pass slower moving or stationary traffic on their right or left
People Cycling at Junctions
Some junctions now include a small cycle traffic lights at eye level height, which may allow cyclists to move separately from or before other traffic.
The Code recommends that people cycling should proceed as if they were driving a vehicle where there are no separate cyclist facilities this includes positioning themselves in the centre of their chosen lane where they feel able to do this safely.
People Cycling, Riding a Horse or Driving Horse Drawn Vehicles on Roundabouts
The new guidance will say that people driving and/or riding a motorcycle should not attempt to overtake people cycling within that person’s lane and allow people cycling to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout.
Parking, Charging and Leaving Vehicles
The Code recommends a new technique when exiting vehicles which is sometimes called “Dutch reach”. When leaving vehicles drivers should open the door using their hand on the opposite side of the door that they are opening which will mean that they turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them to see cyclists passing on the road or people on the pavement.
For the first time, the Code includes guidance about using electric vehicle charging points. When using one people should:
- Park close to the charge point and avoid creating a trip hazard for people walking from trailing cables
- Display a warning sign if you can
- Return charging cables and connectors neatly to minimise the danger to other people and avoid creating an obstacle for other road users
In total 10 sections of the Highway Code have been updated with 50 rules being added or updated. You can find a summary of all the changes in the Highway Code update list. Updates – The Highway Code – Guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
It is important to remember that many of the rules in the Highway Code are legal requirements and if they are not followed then a criminal offence could be being committed.
The road can be a dangerous place for vulnerable road users such as cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. On 30 September 2021 the Department for Transport Published the following:
- between 2015 and 2020 an average of two pedal cyclists died and 83 were seriously injured per week in reported road casualties
- between 2004 and 2020 fatalities increased by 5% and serious injuries by 26%. During this period pedal cycle traffic grew by 96%
- The most common contributed factor allocated to pedal cyclists in fatal or serious accidents with another vehicle was “driver or rider failed to look properly”
As an Associate Solicitor in Fisher Jones Greenwood’s Dispute Resolution Team I have sadly seen first-hand the tragic lifelong consequences for road users who have been involved in accidents as pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. The long term effects of these accidents often last a lifetime and our Personal Injury Team at Fisher Jones Greenwood can look to recover significant compensation awards for people involved in such incidents.
Should you wish to get in touch, please contact Rhian Lowe on 01206 835269 or [email protected].
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