The government made changes to the digital version of the Highway Code in late January 2022. They expect to add these changes to the printed version in April 2022.
In short, the Highway Code now identifies a “hierarchy” of road users, based on their relative vulnerability. In this hierarchy, cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians take priority over drivers, and the Highway Code now advises a number of ways that we can all take extra care to make the roads safer for everyone.
4 Key Changes to the Highway Code For 2022
These changes come into effect from January 2022:
1. Drivers must now give way to pedestrians waiting to cross at junctions.
Pedestrians now have priority at crossings in all circumstances. For instance, if people have already started crossing the road, any traffic wanting to turn must give way to the pedestrians.
2. Cyclists must take care of their position in the road.
On quiet roads, in slow traffic, and while approaching junctions and road narrowings, cyclists must ride in the centre of the lane, only moving to the left when a fast vehicle approaches from behind, and when it’s safe to do so.
Cyclists must keep at least half a metre from the kerb edge when riding on busy roads with faster-moving vehicles.
The updated Highway Code also acknowledges that it’s safer for cyclists to ride two abreast, but that cyclists must be aware of other road users when doing so – moving to single file to allow for vehicles to overtake, for instance.
3. Drivers must give plenty of room when overtaking cyclists.
You must leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists. You can temporarily cross a double white line to do this, if necessary.
For horse riders and pedestrians in the road, you must allow at least 2.0 metres when overtaking.
If it’s not possible to meet these clearances, you must wait behind and not overtake until you can.
4. A new technique for leaving vehicles.
It’s called the “Dutch Reach” technique. Essentially, when leaving a parked car, you should open the door using the opposite hand to the door you’re opening. So if you’re in the driver’s seat, you’d use your left hand to open the door on your right.
In doing this, you’ll be able to comfortably look over your shoulder at the road behind you. This means you’ll be able to see any oncoming cyclists or pedestrians, which means you won’t suddenly open your door in their path.
Are These New Road Laws?
One thing the government’s made clear is that these new updates are advisory. This means that you won’t get a fine if you don’t comply with them.
However, if you do comply with these new guidelines, then you’ll be doing your bit to make the roads safer for everyone. You’ll also make it less likely that you’ll be involved in a collision, which makes it less likely that you’ll have to make a claim on your car insurance.