There’s been a lot in the press over the last few weeks about the 2022 changes to the Highway Code. Some people have claimed that the new rules vilify drivers. Others are saying that overtaking has become impossible, or that the roads are now ruled by cyclists. But the reality – as usual – is a lot less extreme than the headlines would have you believe. So, if you’re currently learning to drive, what do you really need to know about the changes to the Highway Code?

The 2022 Highway Code Changes Explained

Why has the Highway Code changed?

The new Highway Code changes have come into force to protect vulnerable road users. This includes pedestrians, cyclists, and horses. The aim is to prevent road accidents and reduce loss of life.

What’s changed in the Highway Code?

This has been the most significant Highway Code change for four years. And a large number of changes have taken place. But there are four key issues that you need to be aware of.

1. The hierarchy of road users

The hierarchy of road users was created to raise awareness of the most vulnerable people on our roads. Placing pedestrians – particularly children, less abled, and the elderly – in the top tier, as those at greatest risk of being injured on the road. In the second tier are cyclists, horse riders, and horse-drawn vehicles. With the least vulnerable being motorised vehicles.

The new rules state that:

  • ALL road users must be aware of The Highway Code, and be considerate to others.
  • That all other road users must give way to pedestrians – at junctions and zebra crossings.
  • And that motorised vehicle drivers must not cut across the path of cyclists, horse riders, or horse-drawn vehicles. And give way to cyclists when approaching from behind.

2. Overtaking

The previous guidance in the Highway Code was open to interpretation in places. And with overtaking, you were merely advised not to ‘get too close’ to the vehicle you were intending to overtake. The new rules are a lot more specific when it comes to passing vulnerable groups. You now need to:

  • Leave at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph, and give them more space when overtaking at higher speeds.
  • Allow at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space when passing people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles, travelling at speeds under 10 mph.
  • And keep to a low speed, allowing at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space when passing people walking in the road.

3. Roundabouts

When you are driving on a roundabout, the new rules mean that you are obliged to give priority to cyclists, horse riders, and horse-drawn vehicles. This means not attempting to overtake from within the same lane. And allowing cyclists and riders the space thy need to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout. Essentially, it’s about being courteous.

Is there anything else I need to know about the new Highway Code rules?

There are many other amendments and additions to the Highway Code. Many relate to other road users. But it is still worth being aware of them.

  • Cyclists have been advised to ride in the centre of their lane.
  • Motorised vehicle drivers are required to demonstrate increased awareness of the people around them when parking or leaving their vehicle.
  • There are new rules for electric vehicle charging.
  • Cyclists must give way to pedestrians at junctions.
  • And there are new rules relating to the use of shared spaces for cyclists, pedestrians, and horses.

It’s always a bit of a headache when new rules are introduced to the highway code. And someone somewhere always makes a fuss. But the 2022 additions are largely common sense. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions, and showing courtesy to others while driving. If you do that, then you can’t go far wrong.

If you have any questions or concerns about the 2022 Highway Code update, your driving instructor should be able to clarify for you.

Do you want to learn to drive in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and the surrounding areas? Get in touch with DGN.