Changes to the Highway Code: Fact Sheet

Have you seen the latest changes to the Highway Code?

There are significant changes to the Highway Code which come into effect on the 29th January 2022.

Some of these changes will affect driver habits and decisions.

If drivers are not made aware of the changes, they could be putting others in danger. An accident due to the driver’s ignorance will lead to the driver and their employer being at fault.

What are the impacts of an accident caused by dangerous driving?

There are several impacts to an employer, such as:

  • Potential injury/death to a third party.
  • Expensive legal costs.
  • Damage to an organisation’s public image.
  • Personal trauma for the driver.

Of course, no organisation wants to suffer any of these impacts. Therefore, it is crucial stakeholders know the most recent changes to the Highway Code

What are the changes?

Change #1 – Drivers no longer have priority at junctions

Previously, pedestrians would be expected to wait to cross the road until all vehicles had made their turn at a junction.

However, vehicles must now give way to ‘more vulnerable’ road users (pedestrians, cyclists, horse-riders). In the event of an accident, the driver will be at fault unless they can prove otherwise.

Change #2 – All road users must stop for pedestrians waiting at zebra crossings

While some readers may not see this as a change, let us explain.

In the previous version of the Highway Code, road users only needed to stop at zebra crossings when pedestrians were physically crossing the road.

Furthermore, pedestrians can now report a vehicle that does not stop to the police, providing they have evidence/witnesses.

Change #3 – Cyclists can ride where they feel ‘most visible’ on the road

Before this update, there were no explicit regulations within the Highway Code.

But, in the 2022 changes, cyclists can choose to cycle where they deem safest. The only ‘set’ feature is that cyclists should be at least half a metre away from the kerb.

Additionally, vehicles must leave a minimum of 1.5m of space when passing cyclists at speeds up to 30mph. At speeds over 30mph, this gap should increase.

Change #4 – Drivers should not ‘cut across’ cyclists in the same way they would not do so to another vehicle

This element of the Highway Code is advisory rather than a legal mandate.

Currently, most drivers avoid doing this anyway. However, there was never guidance in the Code stipulating that cyclists should be given the same consideration as other vehicles.

Change #5 – All uses of hand-held mobiles are now banned

Again, readers may question this as a ‘change’.

Albeit, this change in the Highway Code is more about closing a loophole in the rules. Before the change, motorists were prohibited from making calls and texting, which did not include putting on music or taking photos. Any mobile use is now breaking the Code.

The only exception is in an emergency.

Change #6 – Local Authorities now have the power to fine motorists for minor traffic offences

Formerly, only the police could fine drivers for minor traffic offences. Examples include blocking junctions and not giving way to traffic.

From January 29th, Local Authorities have the power to issue fines up to £70.

Change #7 – Drivers and their passengers should use the ‘Dutch Reach’ to open vehicle doors.

Finally, this change is another advisory aspect of the Highway Code.

Utilising the ‘Dutch Reach’ method is where the person uses their hand furthest from the door to open it. Essentially, this encourages the person to look over their shoulder.

Change #7 aims to reduce the number of cyclists being hit by opening doors.

What can you do to keep your drivers compliant?

As with most aspects of fleet, being clear in communications to all stakeholders is pivotal.

Maintaining an up-to-date fleet and driver policy is one way your business can ensure it’s doing its best to protect colleagues and the wider public.

Our Services

EVP Solutions will ensure that your company vehicle policy is completely watertight and suitable to the needs of all parties within the business.

Furthermore, our consultants are able to check that your company procedures are in-line with industry standards. We then make changes to make you best in-class.

If you would like to know more about our services, please contact us, or follow or us on LinkedIn for more fleet news and insight.