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 – or rather think about having to do so soon.
Over the years, updates and new rules great and small have crept into it; and now changes have been proposed that will give pedestrians and cyclists greater priority over motorised vehicles. The government hopes to have them approved by parliament and published this autumn.
Here we bring you some of the most notable changes planned, 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 proposed changes to the code?
Underpinning the proposed 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 will remain 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.”
The RAC supports the planned changes but says that they should be properly communicated to drivers to avoid creating confusion. “Unless people who have been used to approaching a junction in a particular way are properly informed, you risk a collision,” says Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the organisation. “People should read the Code, but most don’t, so the government will need to make the changes clear.”
Garrod describes the Highway Code as “50 shades of grey”. Here are five of those shades:
You must let buses out