Changes to the Highway Code: Delight for Vulnerable Road Users

As you may or may not have seen, there have been 10 changes made to the Highway Code for 2022, these changes come into effect from 29 January 2022.

The most notable change for all is the introduction of a “Hierarchy of Road Users”, which recognises that road users who pose the greatest risk must hold a higher level of responsibility for road safety. Ranking road users from HGV through to the pedestrian.

Greatest praise has been received regarding the new rules to tackle dangerous overtaking and “close passes”. The new highway code now specifically outlines minimum safe passing distances for the more vulnerable road users.

What are the changes?

Drivers must:

  1. Leave a minimum distance of 1.5m at speeds under 30mph;
  2. Leave a minimum distance of two metres at speeds over 30mph;
  3. Always leave a distance of at least two metres if driving a large vehicle;
  4. Pass horses and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 15mph and at a minimum distance of two metres;
  5. Wait behind the motorcyclist, cyclist, horse rider, horse drawn vehicle or pedestrian and not overtake if it is unsafe or it is not possible to meet these clearances.

These new changes have already received praise in the community with The British Horse Society’s Director of Safety, Alan Hiscox telling Horse & Hound: “I was dancing a little jig when I read them! People ask whether the DfT (Department for Transport) really listens to equestrians or considers us in the same way as cyclists, and I think this absolutely proves they do. I really think this will be a major step for the safety of horses on the roads.”

There are also three additional new rules of note being updated into the Highway Code, one being that pedestrians will now have higher authority than cars when situated at a junction.

What are these additional rules?         

H1. Those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.

H2. At a junction you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.

H3. You should not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles going ahead when you are turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane.

These new additions to the highway code are allocating users of larger vehicles more responsibility on the roads to ensure that the more vulnerable road users are able to travel in a safer way.

This image shows the differences between the old rules and the new rules to highlight the positive changes being made.

The cycling community are already showing praise towards these updates. David Orme, chairman of Christchurch Bicycle Club told Dorset Live: “I think it’s brilliant and well overdue” and that it could “transform cycling for this country.”