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What are the new Highway Code changes

As of January 29th, 2022, there was a variety of changes made to the Highway Code. The Highway Code is used by drivers for guidance advice and legislation for road users.

The Hierarchy of Road Users

One of the biggest changes to the highway code is that road users have been put into hierarchies. The hierarchy of road users is as follows:

  • Pedestrians – Least Responsibility
  • Cyclists
  • Horse riders
  • Motorcyclists
  • Car and taxi drivers
  • Van and minibus drivers
  • Large passenger and HGV Drivers – Most Responsibility

Those driving bigger vehicles have more responsibility to reduce the threat posed to other road users. Pedestrians have a higher probability to be injured in the event of an incident. As a result, drivers will be held more accountable for keeping an eye out for bicycles, pedestrians, and horseback riders.

Crossing at Junctions

Highway code Junctions

The updated Highway Code explains that at  junctions pedestrians should be given priority when crossing or waiting to cross the road. Here are a few tips for driving at junctions:

  • Be aware of cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians, including those using motorised wheelchairs or mobility scooters, as they are not always visible. If you approach from behind, be aware that they may not have seen or heard you.
  • If people have started crossing or are waiting to cross and traffic wants to turn into the road, the people crossing have priority and the traffic should give way so you should prepare for the vehicle in front stopping.
  • Stay behind cyclists, horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and motorcyclists at junctions even if they are waiting to turn and are positioned close to the curb.
  • Stay aware of long vehicles which may be turning at the junction ahead of you, as they may need the whole width of the road to make the turn.
  • When waiting at a junction, do not trust that a car approaching from the right and signalling left will turn. Wait till you’re certain.

Overtaking when Driving/Cycling

Highway Code Overtaking

When overtaking someone riding a horse or cycling you can cross a double white line as long as they are travelling at 10mph or below. There has been an update on safe passing distances and speeds for those driving or riding motorcycles, These are as follows:

  • When overtaking cyclists at speeds up to 30 mph, leave at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) between you and them, and give them extra room when overtaking at greater speeds.
  • When passing people riding horses or operating horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph with at least 2 metres (6.5 ft) of clearance.
  • When passing people walking in the street (for example, if there is no pavement), provide at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space and drive at a modest speed.

People cycling, riding a horse, and driving horse drawn vehicle on roundabouts

Roundabouts Highway Code

The Highway Code has been revised to make it clear that when you are driving on roundabouts should give way to cyclists. if you are driving or riding a motorcycle you should.

  • NOT overtake a cyclist within that person’s lane.
  • Permit cyclists to move across their path as they travel around a roundabout.

Advice has been provided which states you should take extra care when entering a roundabout. This is to make sure that you don’t cut across people who are cycling or horse riders

Parking and Leaving Vehicles

The Dutch Reach

The Highway Code recommends vehicle users use a new technique when leaving their vehicle, this is known as the Dutch Reach

The Dutch Reach is a new technique that the government put into place to reduce the risk of injured cyclist and pedestrians from vehicle drivers opening their doors without checking that the area is clear first. This technique is when you use the hand furthest from the door to open it. This forces you to look over your shoulder so you can see any cyclists, pedestrians, or vehicles coming towards you. 

Most cyclist incidents are from people opening there are doors and not looking to see if other road users are approaching them.

Using Electric Charging Points

The Highway Code for the first time includes guidance on using electric vehicle charging points.

If you have an electric vehicle you should:

  • Try to avoid creating hazards with cables for people who may be walking. 
  • Have a warning sign displayed if you can
  • Ensure you return charging changes and connectors neatly.
Charging electric vehicles

Staying up to date

Stay up to date with highway code

It very important to stay up to date with the Highway Code. It is updated regularly so all drivers must take the time to read. Many of the guidelines in the Highway Code are legal requirements so if you disobey these you are committing a criminal offence.

To stay up to date with the Highway Code you can:

  • Read the full updated version of The Highway Code, free of charge.
  • Buy and download the IOS Highway Code App – It cost £3.49 and will be fully updated with all changes as of spring 2022.
  • Pre-order an updated copy of the Highway Code book online
  • Buy an updated copy of the Highway Code book at most high street bookshops from April 2022.

How the changes may affect business

You might be wondering if the new set of laws will affect your business. Fines, points, and the loss of a driver’s licence can all have an influence on a staff member’s ability to accomplish their responsibilities.

Let’s imagine a line manager is required to attend meetings at several places on a regular basis. They will be limited in their ability to travel for employment if they lose their driver’s licence. They won’t be able to go to places in areas where public transportation is lacking.

Employees in industries such as health and social care must be prepared. Workers and the individuals they care for may suffer because of a lack of information about the changes. The service will be at risk of understaffing if a care worker was to lose their driver’s licence. Vulnerable service users may be neglected because of this.

These are all good reasons why employers should do their best to ensure that their employees are aware of the changes and have a way to keep updated with any other changes which may come.

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