If you last read the Highway Code when you were preparing to take your driving test, now would be a good time to revisit it.
Over the years, updates and new rules great and small have crept into it; and now changes have been introduced that give pedestrians and cyclists greater priority over motorised vehicles.
Here we bring you some of the most notable changes, remind you of additions and updates to the Code from recent years and put right some common misconceptions. Note that where the terms must and mustn’t are used in the Code, the rule has legal weight, but where should and shouldn’t are used, it’s guidance only.
What are the latest changes to the code?
Underpinning the new changes is a concept the Department for Transport calls a “hierarchy of road users”. In descending order of vulnerability, these are: pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists and motorists. It places the greatest responsibility on drivers for the safety of other road users. However, the DfT adds that it remains the responsibility of all road users to have regard for their own and others’ safety.
“The changes address the concept of shared space on our roads,” says Steve Garrod, head of continual professional development at the Driving Instructors Association. “More of us are sharing it, but too many drivers think it’s theirs and no one else’s. The new Code will give greater priority to cyclists and pedestrians, and drivers need to understand that.”
Priorities at crossings and junctions
At a junction, you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you’re turning.
You should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing; but you must give way when a pedestrian or cyclist has moved onto a crossing (this last rule was already in place prior to the most recent changes).
Don’t wave or use your horn to invite pedestrians or cyclists to cross; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching.
You should remain behind cyclists and motorcyclists at junctions, even if they’re waiting to turn and are positioned close to the kerb.
You shouldn’t cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, just as you wouldn’t turn across the path of another motor vehicle.