Changes to the highway code

Many drivers are unaware of the new Highway Code rules that went into effect in January 2022, which aim to protect vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

It is critical that all road users are familiar with The Highway Code and are considerate to other road users.

Why is the Highway Code important?

The Highway Code which aims to make roadways safer has been updated to include three new rules that place pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists at the top of the hierarchy in the event of a collision – with children, older people, and disabled folks being more vulnerable.


When pedestrians are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other road users must yield. When traffic wishes to turn into the street, the pedestrian has precedence over vehicles. On a zebra crossing and on a parallel crossing pedestrians have priority over cars.

Shared spaces

There are a few new limitations in the code that pertain to shared roadways and sites. People who bike, ride a horse, or use a horse-drawn cart should exercise caution not to put pedestrians at risk while walking in these regions, but people walking should also be cautious not to block or endanger them.

When passing others, cyclists are advised to go slowly and inform others they are present (for example, by jangling their bell) and not pass a horse on its left.


According to new recommendations, cyclists are advised to use the middle of their lane on quiet streets, in slower-moving traffic, and when approaching junctions or where the road narrows. When cycling on busy roads with automobiles traveling faster than them, cyclists should keep at least 0.5 meters (about 1.5 feet) away from the curb.

Bicyclists are now advised to be considerate of the demands of other road users while riding in groups in the new version. When traveling in larger groups or accompanied by children or less experienced riders, they may ride two abreast; nevertheless, they must be cautious of automobile drivers behind them and allow them to pass when it is safe to.

According to the revised code, cyclists should be cautious that they leave room (a door’s width or 1 meter) when passing parked cars so they aren’t hit if a vehicle door is opened. The ‘Dutch Reach,’ a new method for exiting vehicles suggested to prevent such occurrences. To open a door with their hand on the other side of the door being opened, such as when a driver or passenger (when able) must swivel their head to look over their shoulder behind them. They are subsequently less likely to strike cyclists or motorcyclists on the road (or pedestrians on the sidewalk).

A cyclist may lawfully stay in the left-hand lane when trying to cross or circle a roundabout. When driving into a roundabout, motorists should exercise increased caution to avoid colliding with cyclists who are continuing around the roundabout in the left-hand lane.


There’s also new material on safe passing distances and speeds for drivers and motorcyclists when overtaking vulnerable road users, including:

  • leaving at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph and giving them more space when overtaking at higher speeds.
  • passing people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph and allowing at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space.
  • allowing at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space and keeping to a low speed when passing people walking in the road (especially where there’s no pavement).

If it’s not safe or feasible to satisfy these rules, the driver or motorcycle rider should stay back.


The new regulation on E-scooters is not entirely clear regarding them. Despite the fact that the use of E-scooters has increased dramatically because of the Department for Transport’s introduction of Rental E-scooters in various parts of England, it is uncertain where E-scooters fit within the new hierarchy of road users.

Common sense?

The vast majority of the Highway Code changes are straightforward common sense which demonstrate respect for other users. Common sense and politeness, on the other hand, aren’t as widespread as they should be and we represent a lot of people who have been injured in ways that can’t be undone because drivers didn’t pay attention or care to avoiding harm.

It is critical to raise awareness of the changes that have been made to improve the safety of all road users, especially pedestrians, cyclists, kids, and elders. “How many vehicle drivers are aware of the improvements?” says Lee Hart, at Clarke Willmott.

“The Highway Code should be required reading for everyone, not just beginners. It is updated on a regular basis, so it’s critical that everyone is aware of the rules in the code ,they are legal obligations and failure to follow them might result in a criminal penalty or be used in civil liability claims to establish liability.”

Stanley Ryan

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