How the recent Highway Code changes will affect you

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They might have flown under the radar a little, but the latest changes to the Highway Code are now in place. Taking effect from 29 January, the changes place greater responsibility on drivers of larger vehicles to improve awareness of more vulnerable road users – principally pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Whilst it’s important for everyone to stay safe by following road traffic rules, there is increased emphasis on the hierarchy of road users. This hierarchy means those with the potential to do the greatest harm – such as HGVs, lorries, vans and minibuses – bear the greatest burden going forward.

What are the key changes?

Previously, the Highway Code included guidance for all road users to show due consideration towards each other. The new rules in place effectively shift that responsibility more towards motorists, particularly for those operating bigger and bigger vehicles.

That greater responsibility is outlined in the first of three new rules: H1, H2 and H3. Rule H1 makes it so that motorists need to “take care and reduce the danger they pose to others”. This is given more weight in the two rules that follow, which also factor in changes to priorities and positioning in the road.

Rule H2 states that motorists should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a road when turning, not just those who are already crossing as was previously the case. This also goes for zebra crossings, where up until now it’s already been common (but not mandatory) to allow waiting pedestrians to cross. Rule H2 now enforces this practice to give priority to those on foot.

Finally, Rule H3 regards positioning in the road, leaving space for vulnerable road users and not cutting across others when changing lanes or turning. Cyclists are advised to stay in the middle of a lane where overtaking vehicles wouldn’t be able to leave sufficient space. This aims to reduce the prospect of vehicle operators attempting to narrowly overtake cyclists and posing as a significant danger.

For the full review of Highway Code changes and to see how they will affect you, visit the gov.uk website here.

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