Changes to The Highway Code: hierarchy of road users
From 29th January rules for all types of road users will be updated in The Highway Code to improve the safety of people walking, cycling and riding horses.
New hierarchy of road users
The changes being made by the Government on 29 January introduce a new ‘hierarchy of road users’.
The new hierarchy explains that those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.
This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, cars and motorcycles.
Other more vulnerable road users have a responsibility to reduce danger to people walking. None of this detracts from the responsibility of ALL road users, including people walking, cycling or riding a horse, to have regard for their own and other road users’ safety
Changes at a glance
The latest changes to The Highway Code include:
Giving people walking across and people cycling going straight ahead priority when turning in and out of junctions
Leaving at least 1.5 metres when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph, and give them more space when overtaking at higher speeds.
Passing people riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle at speeds under 10 mph and allow at least 2 metres of space
Allowing at least 2 metres of space and keep to a low speed when passing a person who is walking in the road
Encouraging people driving vehicles to open their doors with the hand furthest from the door, to help them look over their shoulder behind them to see people cycling or walking nearby
People cycling may ride in the centre of the road or two abreast for their own safety, whilst allowing others to overtake when it is safe for them to do so
Changes to how the practical test is assessed
Most of the changes reinforce existing good driving behaviour and do not alter how we assess driving tests. But some of the changes will result in a change in assessment.
The new rule results in a change of assessment during a driving test. This says: “At a junction you should give way to people crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning”.
People driving or riding a motorcycle will need to take this new requirement to give way to people walking into account as they plan their approach to the junction.
We are reminding our driving examiners that it will take time for everyone, including people driving, riding, cycling, walking and horse riding to adapt to the changes.
Our examiners will take all of these factors into account as some people may not be aware of the changes and may react differently to the way novice drivers might be expecting.
How to stay updated
It’s easy to keep up to date with The Highway Code, and any other future changes, online.
GOV.UK includes a list of the latest updates that have been made, so it’s quick and easy to see what has changed. You can also sign up for email alerts whenever the Highway Code is updated.
The Highway Code on GOV.UK allows you to:
search for key words and phrases within The Highway Code
quickly move between related rules
follow links to the original laws that the rules are based on
print sections more easily
There’s also an official Highway Code app.