Changes to the Highway Code

You are probably aware of changes in the Highway Code (the full amendments can be found by clicking on this link) that came into effect from Saturday 29th January. A lot of people – some driving instructors included – seem to be getting very alarmed at what these changes might mean. There is nothing to be alarmed about! A lot of the changes are common sense – ok, one or two bits might be questionable but on the whole the changes are designed to make things safer on our roads for ALL road users – this includes pedestrians as well as those on wheels.

We will produce a series of blog posts going through each of the eight areas where there are changes:

  1. Hierarchy of road users
  2. People crossing the road at junctions
  3. Walking, cycling or riding in shared spaces
  4. Positioning in the road when cycling
  5. Overtaking when driving or cycling
  6. People cycling at junctions
  7. People cycling, riding a horse and driving horse-drawn vehicles on roundabouts
  8. Parking, charging and leaving vehicles

We feel it is important to make as many people as possible aware of the changes whilst, at the same time, not creating a sense of mass hysteria which appears to be the case on some Facebook forums I have looked at. So we propose to give an measured description of each change and how it might affect your driving, especially those of you with practical driving tests coming up.

The driving test centre manager at Exeter and Newton Abbot has given an assurance that nothing drastic is happening at all to the way a driving test is assessed. We have a Zoom meeting with him on February 8th where he will be answering questions that have been submitted by many Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) in this area. Following that I shall also give an update on any new bits of useful information.

So, let’s start today with the Hierarchy of Road Users:

highway code changes

The purpose of this is to put the most vulnerable road users and those most at risk from a collision at the top of the hierarchy. So pedestrians come at the top of the list, followed by cyclists right down to heavy goods vehicles (HGV) at the bottom. However this does not mean that those towards the top of the hierarchy can automatically expect everyone else to give way to them! This is the part many are worried about. There has always been a requirement for EVERYONE:

  1. To be familiar with the Highway Code – so when was the last time you read it? Probably when you studied for your theory test!
  2. To be considerate to other road users – are you (hopefully the answer is yes!)
  3. To understand your own responsibilities towards the safety of others – not everyone does this sadly!

Nothing has essentially changed with these three principles. For example, pedestrians cannot just walk out across a junction without first assessing whether it is safe to do so. But how many do this? Too many sadly, especially in the era of the mobile phone and ear pods!

Next instalment very soon – People crossing the road at junctions!


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