02 February 2022

The Highway Code has undergone a major overhaul including a new hierarchy for road users. What do the new rules mean for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians? Kate Golding looks at the issues.

The Highway Code is introducing three new rules and amending some of the existing rules.

Whilst the rules set out in the Highway Code are not law, they are often used to establish liability in a claim for personal injury. It is therefore vital that road users are familiar with the rules to help keep them safe.

Rule H1: New hierarchy of road users

The introduction of Rule H1 reflects the greater damage that larger vehicles, such as Heavy Goods Vehicles, can do to smaller vehicles. It puts a greater responsibility on drivers of these vehicles to look after the more vulnerable road users.

This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, followed by vans/minibuses, cars/taxis and motorcycles. Cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles likewise have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians.

Rule H1 also states that all road users have responsibility to ensure their own safety, as well as that of others.

Rule H2: For drivers, motorcyclists, horse drawn vehicles, horse riders and cyclists

This rule is for drivers, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists. It states:

“At a junction, you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning”.

Rule H2 also states that you must give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing.

Further, cyclists will have to give way to pedestrians on shared-use cycle tracks. Only pedestrians may use the pavement (this includes mobility scooter and wheelchair users).

Rule H3: Drivers and motorcyclists

This rule applies to drivers and motorcyclists. It states:

“You should not cut across cyclists going ahead when you are turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane”.

You should give way whether the cyclists are using the road, a cycle lane or a cycle track. You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary. This includes when cyclists are:

  • Approaching, passing or moving off from a junction.
  • Moving past or waiting alongside stationary or slow-moving traffic.
  • Travelling around a roundabout.

In addition to these, a further update to the Highway Code specifies that drivers should use the “Dutch Reach” to open their car door before they get out. The Dutch Reach involves using the hand furthest from the door to open the door – for example, if you were in the driver’s seat of a right-hand drive, you would use your left hand to open the car door. This prompts the driver to turn their body towards the door and look over their shoulder as they exit the vehicle.

A significant number of existing rules have been amended. A summary of these changes can be found on the website.

If you or someone you know has suffered a Personal Injury as a result of an accident of any kind, contact the Personal Injury Department on 0800 652 8373 for a free consultation and to discuss your options.