The 2022 Highway Code Changes

Jack Dreyer | Monday 19th February 2024 11:00am

Close up image of a give way sign with trees in the background.

Since 1931, the Highway Code has been instructing motorists of the best practices for driving on Britain’s roads. Since then, plenty of things have changed, and 2022 was no different.

The 2022 changes to the Highway Code focused on hierarchies on the road, prioritising a different set of users. According to the Department for Transport, the new system aimed to foster a “more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use”.

Read on to find out more about what changes were implemented and how they affect you as a road user.

What were the new regulations?

At a glance, the new regulations took into account the conflicting interests of the different types of road users and aimed to integrate them more harmoniously.

There has always been a conflict of interest on Britain’s roads — from cyclists to taxis — but now the Highway Code seems to be fostering a more unified approach to travel.

Now, large passenger vehicle drivers have a greater responsibility in reducing the threat posed to other road users, while drivers have to give more leeway when dealing with pedestrians at zebra crossings.

The new changes also showed a greater consideration paid towards the safety of road users at all levels. For example, cyclists must give way to pedestrians on shared paths, and the cyclists themselves are protected from drivers cutting across them when turning in or out of a junction.

What’s more, implementations such as the New ‘Dutch Reach’ technique also informed road users on how best to open their door (while looking over their shoulder) to reduce the risk of harm done to themselves and others.

The three main highway code changes

The changes that came into force in January 2022 were manifold, however, the GOV.UK website has all of the information you need to get up-to-date. And, in the meantime, we have identified three of the most significant changes that we think you should know about.

1. Hierarchy of road users

The changes that are due to happen will, as we have said, greatly impact the hierarchy of road users on the most fundamental level. Those who have the potential to cause the greatest harm now have the greatest responsibility to keep others safe.

The hierarchy of road users is as follows:

  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists
  • Horse rider
  • Motorcycle riders
  • Cars & taxis
  • Van & minibuses
  • Large passenger vehicles & heavy goods vehicles

But the new code specifies that, even though pedestrians are at the top of the list, they too have a responsibility to keep road users safe.

2. Right of way at junctions and crossings

Drivers, cyclists, and horse riders have been the target of a series of new regulations which specify that pedestrians have the right of way to cross at junctions.

Since January 2022, if you are a road user looking to pull out of or turn into a junction, you must always let the pedestrian pass first.

The same applies to zebra crossings and parallel crossings. As well as this, there has been a refreshed emphasis on pedestrian-only pavements. Apart from wheelchairs and mobility scooters, no vehicles are allowed on pavements.

However, cyclists have also been considered in the new code.

3. Priority for cyclists

In certain situations, the new code specifies that cyclists get priority too. Motorcyclists and drivers have been urged not to cut across cyclists when they are turning in or out of a junction to reduce the number of collisions. This rule applies regardless of whether the cyclist is moving in a cycle lane, a cycle track, or even the road itself.

Instead, it is recommended that motorists stop and wait for a decent-sized safe gap (advised 1.5m) while cyclists are moving away from a junction, passing, waiting next to stationary traffic, or travelling on the roundabout.

Who were affected by the new changes?

The most significant changes affect both the smallest and largest of Britain’s vehicles. That is, the new rules primarily impact HGV drivers and cyclists since they respectively pose the greatest risk and are at risk themselves.

In a nutshell, pedestrians and cyclists have benefited greatly from these changes as they elevate further up the list of priorities on Britain’s roads.

Is the new highway code legally enforced?

Although the new highway code is recommended by the government, unfortunately not all of the advice it prescribes is legally enforceable.

That’s exactly what it is, after all, just advice aimed at keeping the public safe. Some of the rules, however, are given legal standing and it is a criminal offence to not abide by them.

You can easily tell which of the highway code’s rules are legally binding because they begin with or include “you must” or “you must not”.

As an example, “Helmets MUST comply with the Regulations and they MUST be fastened securely.”

Failure to comply with the highway code rules can land you with a hefty fine.

Have there been any other changes?

Aside from the three main rules we’ve identified above, there has also been a whole host of other, more nuanced changes. A prime example is the ‘Dutch Reach’ method we described earlier being added as guidance to the ‘Waiting and Parking’ chapter.

Prescriptive advice for electric vehicle owners has also been introduced to prevent their charging cables from becoming trip hazards.

Contact us today

If you have any questions about the Highway Code and your vehicle, get in touch with the friendly team of experts at your nearest Kwik Fit centre. Or, in the meantime, head over to our blog for more motoring advice and information.

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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