What are the changes to the Highway Code for 2022?

Most drivers are said to be unaware of the updated guidance.

Highway Code
Highway Code

The Highway Code is something all road users should be well aware of. It includes everything you need to know about being on the road, with all of the laws, advice and information required to safely get around.

It’s not a static document, though, and is occasionally updated based on new learnings. For 2022, a series of updates have been introduced, largely focused on priorities for everyone from pedestrians to HGVs.

However, despite the Department for Transport insisting ‘all road users are aware’ of what’s happening, the AA has warned that two-thirds of the 13,000 people it polled before Christmas did not know changes were coming.

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s new ahead of their introduction at the end of January.

Learner Drivers
The official highway code book.

What’s the key change?

The main focus has been on creating a ‘hierarchy’ of road users, giving priority to those that are more vulnerable. It means those who can do the greatest harm to others have a higher level of responsibility to reduce the danger.

As an example of this, it is the responsibility of a car driver to be aware of cyclists.

What else has changed for vulnerable road users?

One that has a good chance of creating some confusion – especially if not everyone is aware of it – is a new rule surrounding crossing priorities for pedestrians.

Now, when a car is turning into a road or exiting a road, they should stop to let pedestrians cross.

What about drivers turning across cyclists and horse riders?

Further to being aware of more vulnerable road users, new rules have been introduced relating to turning into a new road or changing lanes.

Now, there’s direct guidance that says you should not turn across the path of a cyclist or horse rider that is continuing ahead on the same road.

In practical terms, it means you should not overtake them shortly before turning left, instead waiting behind them and pulling in once they have passed the junction.

Hammersmith Bridge repairs

How much of a gap should we leave when overtaking cyclists?

Speaking of overtaking cyclists, new rules designed to further protect two-wheeled road users suggest that you should leave 1.5 metres when overtaking at speeds of up to 30mph. You should give them even more space when overtaking at higher speeds.

What’s the ‘Dutch Reach’?

The Highway Code now includes a recommendation that you should open the door of a parked car using the ‘Dutch Reach’ method.

This involves using the opposite hand to the one that’s closest to the door, because it means you reach across your body and turn outwards. This means you naturally check what’s coming and reduces the risk of opening your door on a cyclist.

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