Major Highway Code changes to launch within weeks – drivers must give priority to cyclists

The Government announced that the shake-up of driving laws would be coming on January 29, 2022, after plans were first announced earlier this year. From that date, pedestrians and cyclists will be given priority over motorists at junctions following a public consultation.

The Department for Transport said a majority of people supported its moves and would be taking the responses from the public consultation in the shaping of the Highway Code changes.

The changes will introduce a hierarchy of road users which ensure that those road users who can do the greatest harm have the responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.

This will be known as Rule H1 and the DfT states: “The objective of the hierarchy is not to give priority to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in every situation.

“But rather to ensure a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users.”

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Following the change in 2022, the Highway Code will prioritise the concept of a “hierarchy of road users”.

It says: “The ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ is a concept which places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy.

“The road users most likely to be injured in the event of a collision are pedestrians, in particular children, older adults and disabled people, followed by cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists.

“The hierarchy does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly. The following H (H1, H2 and H3) rules clarify this concept.”

Drivers are now advised to leave a certain amount of space when motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders overtake a car.

Motorists should leave a minimum distance of 1.5 metres at speeds under 30mph, with a distance of two metres at speeds over 30mph.

With these changes, a new technique commonly known as the “Dutch Reach” will also be advised.

This encourages drivers to open the door of their vehicle with the hand on the opposite side of their body.

By doing this it causes the people in the car to twist their body making it easy to look over their shoulder and check for other road users.

The aim of this is to make drivers and passengers look over their shoulders and are then more likely to avoid causing injury to cyclists and motorcyclists on the road, or pedestrians on the pavement.

This will be added to Rule 239 of the Highway Code, which will also apply new guidance to electric car owners.

It will recommend that charging cables can be a trip hazard for pedestrians and every care should be taken when charging vehicles to minimise any danger.

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