Highway Code Changes
Changes to the Highway Code designed to enhance safety for all road-users - particularly those most at risk - came into effect 29 January 2022, as the government continues to build back safer roads.
A hierarchy of road-users were introduced, ensuring quicker or heavier modes of travel have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others on the road.
Cyclists also received fresh guidance to ride in the centre of the lane on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions in order to make themselves as clearly visible as possible. They'll also be reminded they can ride 2 abreast - as has always been the case and which can be safer in large groups or with children - but they must be aware of drivers behind them and allow them to overtake if it is easy to do so.
Meanwhile, motorists will be encouraged to adopt the so-called 'Dutch Reach', opening the door next to them with the opposite hand so they look over their shoulder, meaning they're less likely to injure passing cyclists and pedestrians.
The government's award-winning THINK! campaign will soon launch a communications drive, backed by over £500,000 in funding, raising awareness of the changes and ensuring road-users across the country understand their responsibilities. The campaign will run across radio and social media channels, with further campaign activity to follow later in the summer.
RAC Head of Roads Policy, Nicholas Lyes, said:
"These major changes to The Highway Code should make the roads safer for the most vulnerable road users, in particular, those walking and cycling, so are to be welcomed. But it's vitally important that all road users - especially drivers - take the time to fully understand what's new as some of the changes are significant departure from what's gone on before. For instance, drivers turning into a road should now give way to any pedestrians waiting to cross.
As we look towards a net zero future, safer roads will encourage more and more people to travel by foot, bike or public transport, helping to reduce congestion and emissions. Improvements to road safety measures will also lead to fewer road traffic collisions, not only saving lives but also the billions of pounds spent every year on dealing with such collisions."
As part of their work to improve road safety even further, DfT also recently announced plans to change the laws around using handheld mobile phones while driving. They will be made stricter later this year, making virtually any use of them behind the wheel illegal, with those caught breaking the law potentially facing 6 penalty points and a £200 fine.