Changes to the Highway Code will mean drivers need to give way to pedestrians at a junction, while cyclists must give way to people using a shared-use cycle track.
At a glance: How has The Highway Code changed? Drivers of large passenger vehicles and HGVs now have ‘the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger posed to other road users’ Drivers at a junction should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road that they’re turning into Drivers should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing Cyclists should give way to pedestrians that are using shared-use cycle tracks Drivers should not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane New ‘Dutch Reach’ technique tells road users how to open the door of their vehicle while looking over their shoulder
Rule H1: hierarchy of road users The first (and most significant) rule in the refreshed The Highway Code sets out the hierarchy of road users. Road users who can do the greatest harm (those driving large vehicles) have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they pose to other road users. Pedestrians (children, older adults and disabled people in particular) are identified as ‘the most likely to be injured in the event of a collision. Here’s a look at what the hierarchy of road users looks like: Pedestrians Cyclists Horse riders Motorcyclists Cars/taxis Vans/minibuses Large passenger vehicles/heavy goods vehicles As you can see, cyclists and horse riders will also have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians. Even so, the updated Highway Code emphasises that pedestrians themselves still need to consider the safety of other road users. The Department for Transport says this system will pave the way for a ‘more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use’.
Rule H2: clearer and stronger priorities for pedestrians This rule are aimed at drivers, motorists, horse riders and cyclists. The Highway Code now states clearly that, at a junction, you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road that you’re turning into. Previously, vehicles had priority at a junction. Drivers should also give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing (a combined pedestrian and cycle crossing). Meanwhile, cyclists should give way to pedestrians on shared-use cycle tracks, and are reminded that only pedestrians (including those using wheelchairs and mobility scooters) can use the pavement. Pedestrians are allowed to use cycle tracks unless there’s a road sign nearby that says doing so is prohibited.
Rule H3: drivers to give priority to cyclists in certain situations The updated Highway Code urges drivers and motorcyclists not to cut across cyclists when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane. This rule applies whether the cyclist ahead is using a cycle lane, a cycle track or simply riding on the road ahead. Drivers are meant to stop and wait for a safe gap when cyclists are: Approaching, passing or moving away from a junction Moving past or waiting alongside still or slow-moving traffic Travelling on a roundabout
Are these rules legally enforceable?
These updates are aimed to keep road users as safe as possible, but not everything in The Highway Code is legally enforceable. While some of the rules are legal requirements (and you’re committing a criminal offence if you disobey them), many simply serve as guidance. If you scroll through The Highway Code, you’ll see some rules include ‘must’ or ‘must not’ – these rules are supported by existing laws.
For example, You must give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing Those that include ‘should’ or ‘should not’ are only guidelines and not supported by existing laws, but may be used in evidence to establish liability. For example, You should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing
Read more: The Highway Code: are you aware of the latest updates?