February 3, 2022
We recently wrote about the change to mobile phone usage and proposed changes due to come in later in January. Well, those changes were approved and are now written into UK road laws with the updated Highway Code.
So, what’s changed? Find out in our carefully put together article below!
Changes to Road Hierarchy
The most important thing for you to be aware of is that the road hierarchy has changed. Previously, there was a lot of priority placed on motor vehicles in particular cars and public transport buses. This has now been inverted, with the most prioritised party being the one who can inflict the least damage – the pedestrian.
The rules now state that the road user capable of doing the most damage will be the one with the highest level of responsibility for all road users. So, if you are driving a car you will now have a greater level of responsibility for pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists. This responsibility does not mean they are not responsible for their own actions and knowing the rules of the road, but does mean there will be more occasions when you will now need to give way to them.
Vehicles larger than you, such as vans, lorries, buses and coaches will have a greater level of responsibility for you. This does not negate your own personal responsibility as a driver but does mean that they will need to be more aware of you and you will have priority on more occasions now.
It’s important that you understand these rules mean that you are more than likely now going to have to make more accommodations to those road users who are more vulnerable than you.
Cyclists Road Positioning
Another big change that’s come into force is to give cyclists more room. You will now be required to give at least 1.5 metres of room to any cyclist you are overtaking.
This additional room will prevent your backdraft from upsetting their balance and also help make them feel safer with traffic not coming as close to them.
Additionally, drivers are being advised that they must not complete any manoeuvres that will cause you to cut across a cyclist or cause them to stop or swerve to avoid you.
Cyclists themselves are being advised to travel in the middle of the lane, especially on roads where there is heavier traffic and on quieter roads. This is so that they are easier to spot to other road users and so that they are not as likely to be riding on poor quality road as there is at the edges of some roads.
Before now you would only need to give way to pedestrians, and other footpath users, who were already crossing the road. You will now need to give way even if they are just waiting to cross.
You’re also going to need to be more careful when turning into roads, as if there is a pedestrian waiting to cross or crossing then you will be required to stop and let them do so before you turn into the road.
These changes also stress how pedestrians, including wheelchair and mobility scooter users, are the only ones authorised to use footpaths (unless otherwise specified). For drivers, this means you might see an increase in the number of other road users moving onto the road which you will need to be more aware and accommodating of.
Additional Changes of Note
There are a few additional, smaller changes that we wanted to highlight as well.
The first is that Rule 91 of the Highway Code has been modified so that drivers could be fined if they have not had sufficient sleep under the general driver fitness guidelines.
Additionally, local authorities’ powers to fine drivers for performing bad manoeuvres or stopping in yellow junction boxes have been increased.
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