Highway Code - Principal Changes

  • Legal Development 28 January 2022 28 January 2022
  • UK & Europe

  • Insurance & Reinsurance

Changes to the Highway Code 2022 - Explained

On Saturday 29 January, revisions to the Highway Code enter force. Many of these changes either codify or refine existing rules, or merely reflect good-road sense and common courtesy. Below we have clarified the new responsibilities for each classification of road user and also highlighted the most prominent changes to the Highway Code that motor insurers and their customers need to be aware of.

Whilst new, these changes reflect longstanding principles that the courts have, for decades, adopted when determining civil and criminal liability arising from road traffic collisions, namely causative potency of a vehicle (its propensity to cause damage) and the relative blameworthiness of those involved.

Heirarchy of road users

Tabloid headlines seem to be dominated by the new “hierarchy of road users” [Rule(s) H1 – H3], which sensibly “places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy. The hierarchy does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly. The road users most likely to be injured in the event of a collision are pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists, with children, older adults and disabled people being more at risk.”

The revised hierarchy is set out below:

  • Those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others… Cyclists, horse riders and drivers of horse drawn vehicles likewise have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians… (H1)

  • At a junction you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning(H2)

  • You should not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles going ahead when you are turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, just as you would not turn across the path of another motor vehicle… Do not turn at a junction if to do so would cause the cyclist, horse rider or horse drawn vehicle going straight ahead to stop or swerve. (H3)

We have highlighted those rules that pose the most significant changes for road users below.


  • Always remain aware of your environment and avoid unnecessary distractions… (R1)

  • Cross at a place where drivers can see you… (R8)

  • Cyclists, horse riders and drivers of horse drawn vehicles should respect [pedestrians’] safety, but [pedestrians] should take care not to obstruct or endanger them… (R13)

  • Drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross and MUST give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing… (R19)


  • If you are an inexperienced horse rider or have not ridden for a while, consider taking the Ride Safe Award from the British Horse Society… see www.bhs.org.uk (R52)



  • Take care when passing parked vehicles, leaving enough room (a door’s width or 1 metre) to avoid being hit if a car door is opened, and watch out for pedestrians stepping into your path… (R67)

[Cyclists should] only pass to the left of large vehicles when they are stationary or slow moving and… should proceed with caution as the driver may not be able to see…

  • If you are going straight ahead at a junction… check that you can proceed safely, particularly when approaching junctions on the left alongside stationary or slow-moving traffic… (R76)

… Take great care when deciding whether it is safe to pass stationary or slow moving lorries and other long vehicles, especially at the approach to junctions, as their drivers may not be able to see you.

Remember that they may have to move over to the right before turning left, and that their rear wheels may then come very close to the kerb while turning (see Rule 67).

Lane positioning

1. Ride in the centre of your lane, to make yourself as clearly visible as possible… (R72)

• on quiet roads or streets – if a faster vehicle comes up behind you, move to the left to enable them to overtake, if you can do so safely

• in slower-moving traffic - when the traffic around you starts to flow more freely, move over to the left if you can do so safely…

• at the approach to junctions or road narrowings where it would be unsafe for drivers to overtake…

2. When riding on busy roads… allow [faster moving vehicles] to overtake where it is safe to do so whilst keeping at least 0.5 metres away, and further where it is safer, from the kerb edge…

  • If you are turning right, you can ride in the left or right-hand lanes and move left when approaching your exit. Position yourself in the centre of your lane if it is safe to do so (see Rule 72) and signal right to indicate that you are not leaving the roundabout… (R79)


  • Evidence suggests that a correctly fitted helmet will reduce your risk of sustaining a head injury in certain circumstances… (R59)

Annex 1: You and your bicycle

  • Cycle training: If you are an inexperienced cyclist or have not ridden for a while, consider taking a cycle training course. Some councils offer national standard cycle training such as Bikeability and in certain areas, this is free of charge. It can help build up your skills and confidence.

… For more information, see www.bikeability.org.ukwww.cycling.scot/bikeability-scotlandwww.bikeabilitywales.org.uk/



  • …You should always reduce your speed when…

sharing the road with pedestrians, particularly children, older adults or disabled people, cyclists and horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and motorcyclists (R125)

  • … When you see a horse on a road, you should slow down to a maximum of 10 mph… When safe to do so, pass wide and slow, allowing at least 2 metres of space… Take great care and treat all horses as a potential hazard; they can be unpredictable despite the efforts of their rider/driver… (R215)


- leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph, and give them more space when overtaking at higher speeds

- pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph and allow at least 2 metres of space

- allow at least 2 metres of space and keep to a low speed when passing a pedestrian who is walking in the road (for example, where there is no pavement)

- take extra care and give more space when overtaking motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and pedestrians in bad weather (including high winds) and at night

- you should wait behind [them] and not overtake if it is unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances (R163).


  • DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users (R167)

… stay behind if you are following a cyclist approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left

...stay behind if you are following a horse rider or horse drawn vehicle approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left. Do not cut across a horse rider or horse drawn vehicle going ahead.

  • … Give motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and pedestrians walking in the road (for example, where there is no pavement), at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car (see Rules 162 to 167).

Drivers should take extra care and give more space… in bad weather (including high winds) and at night.

If the rider looks over their shoulder, it could mean that they intend to pull out, turn right or change direction. Give them time and space to do so (R212).


  • In slow-moving traffic, you should… allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross in front of you… (R151)


  • You should give way to any cyclists in a cycle lane, including when they are approaching from behind you – do not cut across them when you are turning or when you are changing lane (see Rule H3).

Be prepared to stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists before crossing the cycle lane…

Bear in mind that cyclists are not obliged to use cycle lanes or cycle tracks (R140)

  • Some signal-controlled junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cyclists to be positioned ahead of other traffic…

Allow cyclists, including any moving or waiting alongside you, enough time and space to move off when the green signal shows.

Drivers of large vehicles should stop sufficiently far behind the first white line so that they can see the whole area where cyclists may be waiting, allowing for any blind spot in front of the vehicle (R178).

  • You should give priority to cyclists on the roundabout. They will be travelling more slowly than motorised traffic. Give them plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane. Allow them to move across your path as they travel around the roundabout.

Cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles may stay in the left-hand lane when they intend to continue across or around the roundabout and should signal right to show you they are not leaving the roundabout.

Drivers should take extra care when entering a roundabout to ensure that they do not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles in the left-hand lane, who are continuing around the roundabout (R186).

  • … Do not turn at a junction if to do so would cause the cyclist going straight ahead to stop or swerve, just as you would do with a motor vehicle (R211).

  • On narrow sections of road, on quiet roads or streets, at road junctions and in slower-moving traffic, cyclists may sometimes ride in the centre of the lane, rather than towards the side of the road.

It can be safer for groups of cyclists to ride two abreast in these situations. Allow them to do so for their own safety, to ensure they can see and be seen.

Cyclists are also advised to ride at least a door’s width or 1 metre from parked cars for their own safety.

On narrow sections of road, horse riders may ride in the centre of the lane. Allow them to do so for their own safety to ensure they can see and be seen (R213).


If you have to stop on the roadside

  • you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic by looking all around and using your mirrors

  • where you are able to do so, you should open the door using your hand on the opposite side to the door you are opening; for example, use your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side. This will make you turn your head to look over your shoulder. You are then more likely to avoid causing injury to cyclists or motorcyclists passing you on the road, or to people on the pavement.

When using an electric vehicle charge point, you should park close to the charge point and avoid creating a trip hazard for pedestrians from trailing cables. Display a warning sign if you can.

After using the charge point, you should return charging cables and connectors neatly to minimise the danger to pedestrians and avoid creating an obstacle for other road users (R239).

*This content was written by BLM prior to its merger with Clyde & Co*


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