Highway Code changes you need to know about

Highway Code changes you need to know about

UK motorists can expect big changes this new year according to research done by vehicle finance specialist Carvine. Later this month, from January 29th, a batch of new Highway Code rules will come into force that will significantly impact how motorists behave behind the wheel.

Among the fresh set of rules is the major ‘Hierarchy of Users’ regulations. Split into three rules: H1, H2 and H3, everyone from car drivers, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists are affected. The government’s policy states that the new ‘H’ rules will ‘tackle some of the safety issues pedestrians encounter or perceive when walking.’

But the changes don’t stop there.

Cyclists are now being advised to position themselves in the centre of the lane to make themselves more visible to other road users – especially if they are making a turn at a junction or travelling in slow-moving traffic.

Further restrictions to mobile phone users are now in place beyond making a phone call or texting. If you are found using your device to film, take a photo, scroll through a playlist or play a game, you could land yourself a fixed £200 fine and six points on your license.

Later this year, you can also expect parking restrictions on pavements with a proposed £70 fine.  While this has been a finable offence in the capital for years, the rest of England and Wales do not currently face a fine. However, the Scottish government are enacting a bill to outlaw all parking on pavements from 2023 – it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the country follows suit.

Post-July, all new cars manufactured in the EU will be fitted with an Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) black boxes to ensure drivers don’t go over the speed limits in place.

Finally, the other significant change is how motorists use lights to signal other road users. Now you can ‘only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there.’

Alex Thomas, a spokesperson for Carvine commented: “Despite legislation and Highway Code amendments coming into force, most motorists will be unaware of the new rules. While we all have a duty and responsibility behind the wheel, penalising drivers will likely become easier for the authorities as days go by.”

With more and more changes for motorists coming into force across the UK, including the new Clean Air Zones in Manchester and Bradford, the future of driving will undoubtedly look different in years to come.

Here’s a breakdown from Carvine of all the new rules:

Hierarchy of Road Users: Rule H1

The government’s new Hierarchy of Road Users aims to ‘tackle some of the safety issues pedestrians encounter or perceive when walking.’ So the first new rule (H1) places more responsibility on drivers of larger vehicles to take greater care of vulnerable road users.

Within the proposal, motorists whose vehicles have the potential to cause more harm in the event of a collision ‘bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.’ Whether you drive a lorry, taxi, car, van or motorcycle, the new rule applies to whoever sits behind the wheel.

But this rule encompasses more than just motorists, as cyclists and horse riders have a responsibility to take care of pedestrians too. Essentially, if you are a road user, you are responsible for your own safety and others on the road.

Hierarchy of Road Users: Rule H2

Rule H2 is also for drivers, cyclists, motorbike riders and horse riders alike to pay more attention to pedestrians at junctions. If you see someone wishing to cross, ‘you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from you are turning.’

While you might be tempted to keep going, if you spot a pedestrian waiting to cross, you are now expected to give way to them. Likewise, cyclists must give way to pedestrians on shared-use cycle tracks to ensure the safety of both you and your fellow road users.

Don’t forget! Unless pedestrians are prohibited from the area you are driving in; they are entitled to use any part of the road or track to walk on.

Hierarchy of Road Users: Rule H3

Rule H3 concerns drivers and motorcyclists when you are manoeuvering a ‘junction or changing direction or lane.’ In short, motorists should not cut across ‘cyclists, horse riders or horse-drawn vehicles going ahead’ so that you don’t cause them to swerve or be forced to stop.

Patience is the key here. Before you proceed, you should wait until there is a safe gap before making your turn.

So if the cyclist is travelling around a roundabout, is approaching or moving off of a junction or moving or waiting alongside slow-moving or stationary traffic, they have the priority.

Rule 63: Sharing space with other road users

When cycling through areas shared with pedestrians, horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles, you need to make it clear that you are present. It is recommended that you slow down where appropriate or necessary and either ring your bell or by calling out politely so they know you are in proximity.

Whenever you’re out and about on your bike, always remember that some pedestrians may be hard of hearing, deaf, blind or partially sighted – even if it’s not obvious. So take extra care when passing the elderly, disabled and children.
If you see a horse up ahead, whether you’re driving a vehicle, motorbike or bike, you need to be prepared to slow down or stop entirely. You should never pass a horse on its left, as they can quickly become startled if they haven’t clocked you’re there.

Remember to pass all pedestrians, horse riders or horse-drawn vehicles safely at the lowest speed possible, and always leave enough room as you pass by.

Tighter rules on mobile phone use

While driving and either making a phone call or texting has been under fire for a few years now, tighter restrictions are now being enforced if you are found using your mobile phone behind the wheel.

Unless there is an absolute emergency, you could find yourself with a fixed £200 fine penalty notice and six points on your license if you are found using your phone to film, snap a photo, scroll through a playlist or play a game.

Stricter parking restrictions

While it has been a finable offence to park your vehicle on the curbside throughout London for years, it currently isn’t law throughout England and Wales.

With the Scottish government already enacting a bill to outlaw all parking on pavements from 2023, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the UK follows suit. With changes expected to come into force later this year, the latest proposals suggest that councils will be able to issue £70 fines to all curb offenders.

Cyclists advised making themselves more visible

We’ve all been there – stuck behind a cyclist with no room to overtake. But with the upcoming changes, cyclists are being advised to ride in the centre of their lane to make themselves more visible in slow-moving traffic and quieter roads.

Likewise, if a cyclist is approaching a junction (rule 72), they should position themselves in the middle of their carriageway so that other road users can take appropriate action safely.

However, cyclists also hold similar responsibilities when it comes to overtaking traffic and should leave enough space for motorists to overtake when it is safe to do so. Updates in the Highway Code include:

  • Rule 75: Two-Stage Turns:

At some signal-controlled junctions, there are markings on the road directing cyclists to turn in two stages.

Stage 1: As soon as the traffic lights turn green, cyclists planning to turn should head to the location marked by the cycle symbol and turn arrow painted on the carriageway. Stop, and wait before proceeding

Stage 2: Now, there are a set of traffic lights facing the cyclist on the far side of the junction. As they turn green, the cyclist should complete their manoeuvre

  • Rule 76: Going straight ahead

If a cyclist is going straight ahead at a junction, it is their priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of the nearby side road. (See Rule H3 for further information.) Like fellow road users, the cyclist needs to ensure they can proceed safely, particularly if they are approaching a junction on the left from slow-moving or stationary traffic.

New car, new speed rules

Currently, there are national speed limits in place up and down the country. While many roads are supported by traffic and speed cameras, it’s all down to you how fast or slow you drive as a motorist. However, if you’re thinking about buying a brand new car, this is about to change.

All new cars built from July 6 will have built-in Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) black boxes. Using GPS to monitor the speed limit, these speed limiters will ensure that your vehicle doesn’t break it.

Despite the law being passed in the EU back in 2019 before Brexit, the rule will apply to all cars manufactured in the EU and imported to the UK. What’s more, the UK will still continue to uphold many of the EU motoring laws that were passed during our tenure – so expect to see more EU driving laws upheld in the future.

Stop flashing your lights at other motorists

As motorists, we all have a set of communication devices at our fingertips. Whether that’s your horn, revving your engine or flashing your lights, we’ve all taken part in some part of an exchange with one or all of them to get out point across to other road users.

Well, it’s time to let go of everything you think you know. No more flashing to say ‘thanks’ or ‘go ahead!’ Instead, the new code states that you can ‘only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there.’

Just like the classic aggressive horn honk or revving your engine too hard, flashing your lights has become an illegal practice so that you no longer ‘covey any other message or intimidate other road users.’

Councils have new fining powers

Councils across England and Wales will be granted new powers early this year to fine motorists up to £70 for some minor traffic offences. These include illegal turns, stopping in yellow box junctions and driving in prohibited cycle lanes.

While councils in London and Cardiff have followed similar tighter restrictions for decades, 2022 is the first time local authorities across the UK have powers to enforce and issue these penalties for these types of offences. Under the guidance of the Department for Transport, it is expected that councils will have these former police powers handed over from March onwards.

36 thoughts on “Highway Code changes you need to know about”

  1. No more flashing your headlights? Absolutely ludicrous rule. It’s never an aggressive signal and can help relieve a complicated right of way situation.

  2. Christy Lamport

    Some has been there for years. I’m afraid to say all road users must read the highway code. Cyclists more importantly regarding the use of a flashing white light which is illegal as strobe lighting can affect some drivers. All well and good writing new updated rules that nobody takes any notice of. There will be more serious accidents regarding pedestrian crossing at the mouth. They should only cross when safe to do so. I practice if they are on I wait having checked my safety first. Limiters fitted are an absolute disaster as with current sat navs speed limits don’t update and will prevent the use of escaping danger. Make it law to read the highwaycode, not at time of passing your driving test.

    1. I started the new Highway Code today letting pedestrians cross whilst I was waiting to turn into a junction as the Highway Code said and it nearly cause someone to go into my rear end and then nearly causing a pile up . I did everything by the book . It’s so dangerous!!!
      Needs a rethink on this one!

      I do understand what they are trying to do but but we can’t control the traffic behind us

      1. Andrew Hudson

        But if the drivers behind you are obeying the following distance rule there should be no problem.

  3. Tim PERCIVAL

    Just wondering about sitting at traffic lights waiting to turn left at the front of a queue.
    Cyclists have a habit of not bothering to see your indicator and undertaking . Will this be stopped and the cyclist have to overtake on our right like all other motorists

  4. The Govt can write whatever new rules they like but unless they support their introduction with education – nothing will change. Plus there needs to be discussion, justification, explanation etc within the education. If it’s just “these re the new rules – obey them”, then nothing will change.

  5. Where are the rules for ,,,
    cycling with no lights.
    Using electric bikes and scooters on roads.
    With untested braking systems, no lights as speeds in excess of 40 mph,.
    When there’s an accident the motorists are going to get the blame.
    Cyclists don’t follow the highway code now,
    Don’t give way at junctions
    Don’t stop at traffic lights
    All motor vehicles including Cyclists and scooters with a motor should have proper approved brakes, lights and insurance to use the highway.
    Tryed some of these new rules, gave way to pedestrians and had 3 near misses.
    There will be lots of rear end bumps as the car behind doesn’t expect you to stop for pedestrians when turning left.
    All vehicles or cycles should have insurance to use the highway

    1. Keith Brimble

      Any driver that runs into the back of the vehicle in front isn’t keeping a safe distance, also you should always anticipate the vehicle in front might have to stop for something you may not be able to see, ie a pedestrian already crossing the road. Oh yes that rule has been in place for many decades.

  6. Neil Tamblin

    Is there any guidance from the DVSA how this will be marked in a test?
    Is it a fail to not let a pedestrian go first, when entering a junction?

    1. They are going easy on this to give everyone time to adjust. Unless the pedestrian is clear crossing, they should not fail you for someone standing at the junction.

    2. Driving examiners have been told to allow some leniency until these rules have had bedding in period. As an instructor, I am teaching my pupils about these new rules as a fail could result due to not giving way to a pedestrian waiting to cross at a junction.
      My advice get a good dashcam fitted.

  7. Frederick Aubrey Dyson

    On reflection, these changes are completely out of order. They are ill-conceived, particularly the H1 and H2.
    The simple fact is that the pedestrians are not aware of these changes and are not going to know what to do when a vehicle stops and waits at some random position. Not to mention the fact that the majority of drivers will be completely taken by surprise when another driver just randomly jams on breaks and stops in order to let a pedestrian cross the road at an undesignated point.
    Turning into a junction left or right will perpetuate rear-end shunts; once again driver just randomly jams on breaks and stop in order to let a pedestrian cross the road. Once again most existing drivers will not be aware of this new hierarchy, the consultation process has been very superficial and ill-thought through.
    These changes basically absolve ambulatory road users of any responsibility for their own safety. There is no need for these road users to be careful when being on the road and competing with vehicle excise paying road users (car, bus, Vans, and HGV)
    This smacks of caving into some pressure group and has nothing to do with practical safety. All that has happened is those road users who drive are a soft target that will provide more revenue to the government and the predatory insurance companies.

  8. There will be far more accidents when these stupid new rules come into force whoever came up with them needs to give there head a shake absolute joke

  9. Jacqui Anderson

    Flashing your lights should only be “ to warn other toad users if your presence “
    This has been true for many years…

  10. Cant understand why you would flash your headlights to let other drivers know you are there ? If its dark you would surely have your lights on , if its daytime they will be able to see you ?

  11. Excellent! It’s about time the UK deal with the safety on our roads. The population has increased, along with that, the amount of vehicles and road users. All accidents are down to the road users either being incompetent or impatient. All road users should retake their driving test every 10 years. This would hugely cut down the amount of unsafe drivers we have on our congested roads.

    1. Simon Christopher Porch

      I agree.
      I am an ADI & one of the big problems on our roads is impatient drivers & many motorists assuming that driving is an entitlement for their own lifestyles, not a privilege with responsibilities.
      A way to avoid accidents with cars stopping for pedestrians crossing when approaching junctions is to “engage” with the road ahead, plan ahead & anticipate danger by leaving more space for such scenarios. This is done by slowing down earlier & not slamming the brakes at the last moment.
      If you’re a considerate & patient driver, you won’t need to do anything differently.
      The problems will be caused by impatient motorists who want to “get on” & not acknowledge that there are other people who also wish to “get on” & who have just as much right to drive as they have.

    2. Why should everybody take their test every 10 years, when it is only a certain percentage who drive like idiots? I’m also not sure how that would work when there isn’t enough examiners take cover all the current tests.
      Anyone who drives badly should have to take a test. I’ve been driving for 35 years, never had any points on my license or been involved in a accident, plus I teach other people to drive, so why should I have to take a test every 10 years?
      Some of these new rules are pathetic and dangerous. Cyclist sitting in the middle of the road, well that will be great for the environment when they have 20 cars queued behind them, as well as dangerous, when people get impatient.
      How about new rules for cyclists, like they get fined if they don’t use a cycle lane which the council has just spent £10 million building or give them points for dangerous driving and not stopping at traffic lights?

  12. George Simpson

    Great information thank you, but how will this be advertised to the public. Over 30 million drivers and no requirement for them to take a high way code Re test so more accident will take place in my view with the lack of understanding surrounding some of these changes.

  13. Ronnie Lamont

    The penalty for using a hand held device should be greater. Cyclist cycling ‘in the middle of the road’ is confusing, why should they not be using the cycle lanes that have cost thousands of£ to build. The rule reads like they (cyclists) can now use the centre of the road any time.

  14. Although I understand the need for these changes. How are the public going to be informed. There has been nothing in the media, ie TV, Radio. As a driving instructor I can ensure all my current and new learner drivers are made aware. But it’s the current drivers who need the new information made widely available.

  15. Les Sargeant

    Some roads are so small, especially in new housing estates. If cars parked with 4 tyres on the road, dust carts, emergency vehicles etc can’t get passed.

    If someone is standing by an island in the middle of the road, it’s not a pedestrian crossing I would keep going, is this going to change?

  16. Brian Eustace

    I can foresee a lot of problems with drivers waiting for pedestrians before turning into a side road – rear end collisions come into mind, and jay walking as well (as in America where it is actually an offence!). Full thought has not been out into any of these new rules as far as drivers on the road are concerned. Also, on a lesser note, i parking curbside is not a real phrase – it should be KERBside, as the the word curb means to shorten, or cut something. I would not expect this kind of misspelling in a government produced document

  17. This just put more responsibility on the motorist and none on the pedestrian. There is legislation for motorists using mobile phones but what about pedestrians including mothers with buggies just casually wandering roads talking or texting on their phones. Why should motorists shoulder responsibility against such wilful neglect. Also should be made compulsory for cyclists to display lighting and wear light clothing for better visibility. They say share the road what about sharing responsibility instead of takiing it away from pedestrians and putting it all on the motorist

  18. There will be carnage on the streets, pedestrians will expect vehicles to give way, so will step off the kerb without stopping or not looking, if a vehicle driver stops to let a pedestrian cross, he/she is likely to be tail ended by the car behind!!

  19. Paul Fairweather

    giving way to pedestrians when turning left and right if they are waiting to cross is insane, I had this situation today and my student stopped and waited for pedestrian to cross when turning right and waited and waited and waited and waited, eventually I had to promt to complete the turn, is this now going to be a serious or minor or no fault on practical test.

  20. Alison Robertson

    As usual these new rules have been very badly thought through, if at all. Driver to blame for everything yet we pay the road tax.
    Cyclists need to have to take more responsibility, must have to wear appropriate clothing ( not flip flops) use a light and MUST have to know the Highway Code. How can they use a road without this knowledge? It’s absurd. As for giving way to pedestrians turning at a junction, it’s just multiple accidents countywide waiting to happen. Don’t we teach our children to wait until it’s clear to cross?
    Now we’re telling them to walk over in front of a car!

  21. If a driver waits for a pedestrian to cross before turning left then the driver will have their left signal on. The car behind may well think the car in front is pulling up to drop someone off etc. If they overtake the car waiting for the pedestrian and turn into the Junction, then we are going to see a few pedestrian fatalities. Please Gov reevaluate this decision as it has not been fully discussed with all road users or indeed communicated to them.

  22. This rule allow pedestrians to do what they like, someone can just walk in the middle of the road as they have the priority over everyone else.

  23. My original thoughts when these new Highway Code were published was that I seriously thought it was a media ‘windup’ and JOKE. After considering the new rules carefully, the idea that they are introduced in the name of SAFETY is very unclear with a confusing mess as a result. There are so many contradictory changes that have been conjured up and for most people are confusing. What has happened to the simple safety rule that ROADS are for Vehicles and PAVEMENTS are for Pedestrians. PROGRESS when it is safe to do so. !!!
    Oh yes , what about CYCLES can use the ROAD even if there is a CYCLE LANE. ??
    I find it incredible that so many changes have been forced in apparently as LAW and the oversight of the need for the total Re EDUCATION and MIND SET of the whole British population ignored. The existing laws and guidelines in the Highway Code are not universally and sufficiently adhered to so what is the chance that these ILL CONCEIVED and ILL THOUGHT OUT changes will be successful in terms POLICING and SAFETY ????

  24. When a pedestrian is crossing a road, not a problem, BUT, what about the blind ? You stop, they will not cross because they can hear you. Plus with a dog, It is trained not to enter traffic. H 2 is very bad. In addition you are relying on following cars stopping, whilst you wait on a corner for the pedestrian (s) to cross

  25. stephen OGGELSBY

    so as a pedestrian when i wish to walk across the road . i look around and see a car coming, do i wait for them to stop and then walk in front of them . i would rather wait for the road to be clear. thank you

  26. I was always taught and teach pedestrians always have right of way why the confusion if the pedestrian crosses iam prepared to stop if he stops and it’s safe I proceed that way no incident easy peasy safe as house’s

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