Highway Code Changes and Updates From 29 January 2022 (IMPORTANT)
The Highway Code is set to change on the 29th of January 2022, following parliamentary approval with 8 new rules being introduced as well as 49 updates to existing rules. Among the changes is a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users‘ that will prioritise vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians.
The Highway Code undergoes regular revisions and with over two thirds of CWU members driving as part or all of their job plus the majority driving to/from work, it’s important to be aware of the latest version of The Highway Code book. While some revisions may be moderate, others will cover changes to important laws and safety regulations.
- The Highway Code to be updated, coming into force on 29 January 2022.
- 8 new rules being introduced as well as 49 updates to existing rules.
- New Hierarchy of Road Users to be introduced.
- More responsibility put on the drivers of larger vehicles.
- Pedestrians given higher priority.
Background – Highway Code For England, Scotland And Wales.
The Highway Code first appeared in 1931 and has been updated as vehicles, driving practices and laws have changed. The Highway Code already runs to more than 150 pages with over 300 rules. The Highway Code UK covers England, Scotland and Wales. The aim of The Highway Code is to make the roads safer for everyone. For more information, the Official DVSA Highway Code can be browsed on line here:- https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/highway-code-road-safety and the booklet can be purchased online from the DVSA for £2.50 here:-https://www.safedrivingforlife.info/shop/official-dvsa-highway-code/ It can also be purchased from many online retailers and most bookshops.
The Highway Code For Northern Ireland
There is a separate edition for Northern Ireland. On the NI Direct Website is a complete pdf version of The Highway Code (NI) that can be downloaded, as well as its individual sections. The link is:- https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/highway-code
The Highway Code Book (Summary)
The Highway Code book is broken down into specific sections for different road users and instances:
- Rules for pedestrians. General guidance for people on foot, including how to cross the road, understanding different types of crossings and how to use them.
- Rules for powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Covers which types of mobility vehicles can be used on the road as well as on the pavement, and the rules to follow in each case.
- Rules about animals. For people using horses and horse-drawn vehicles, as well as people with dogs and other animals.
- Rules for cyclists. Laws for cyclists to follow, including how to handle junctions and roundabouts.
- Rules for motorcyclists. Covering legal requirements such as helmets and other safety issues, carrying passengers and driving at night.
- Rules for drivers and motorcyclists. Covers rules about vehicle conditions, towing, passenger safety, drink driving and more.
- General rules for all drivers and riders. Covers general rules and guidance, including signalling, stopping, speed limits and lane driving.
- Using the road. General rules on how to use the road safely, such as overtaking, junctions, roundabouts and crossings.
- Road users requiring extra care. A special section for especially vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.
- Driving in adverse weather conditions. How to handle rain, fog, ice, high winds and storms.
- Waiting and parking. Rules on parking, waiting and parking enforcement.
- Rules on using motorways safely.
- Breakdowns and incidents. What to do in the event of a breakdown or traffic incident.
- Roadworks, level crossings and tramways. Guidance on how to navigate these specialised areas.
- Light signals controlling traffic. Understanding traffic lights, motorway signals and lane control signals.
- Signals to road users. How to signal correctly, and understanding others’ signals.
- Signals by authorised persons. Understanding arm signals from police and other authorised officials.
- Traffic signs. Understanding the myriad signs you’ll encounter on the road.
- Road markings. Helping you understand the different road markings and what they mean.
- Vehicle markings. What various vehicle markings mean, including hazard warning plates.
Those are the main areas. Additional sections give more detail on a range of subjects including penalties, first aid and other forms of guidance. There’s a lot to cover, but it’s important that drivers study it carefully and absorb as much as they can.
The Highway Code and Drink Drive Limit
There are strict alcohol limits for drivers, but it’s impossible to say exactly how many drinks this equals – it’s different for each person. The limits in Scotland are different to the rest of the UK. See below. The golden rule is don’t drink and drive and secondly beware of ‘the morning after effect’. Level of alcoholEngland, Wales and Northern IrelandScotlandMicrograms per 100 millilitres of breath3522Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood8050Milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine10767
The Highway Code And Road Signs
The Highway Code has a large section on traffic signs, and covers the majority of them. There’s a lot of different road signs to remember, some are commonplace (speed limit signs, for example) or self-explanatory (the Stop sign), others are comparatively rare or could seem insignificant unless you know exactly what the symbols and colours mean. However, a full guide to every sign is available in a book entitled ‘Know Your Traffic Signs‘. The Highway Code has a section detailing the signs that give orders, warnings, directions, information, as well as signs you’ll encounter at road works. It’s vital to memorise these as fully as possible, because if you don’t know what to do in response to a road sign it could cause an accident.
The Highway Code And The Law
Some elements of The Highway Code are legal requirements, and breaking these rules is a criminal offence that can be met with a fine, penalty points, loss of driving license or in some cases a prison sentence. Legal requirements are clearly marked with the words MUST or MUST NOT. Other guidelines in The Highway Code are not legally binding, but they will help drivers become safer drivers. Just be aware that if drivers don’t adhere to rules that have advisory wording in them and they are being prosecuted for a driving offence, then The Highway Code can be used against those drivers in court and will be taken seriously by judges.
Penalty Points, Fines And Driving Bans
Full details can be found at:- https://www.gov.uk/browse/driving/penalty-points-fines-bans
The Highway Code – Summary of the Key Changes and Revisions on 29 January 2022
On the 29th January 2022, some major changes to The Highway Code will come into effect. For members who drive for Royal Mail, Post Office Ltd, BT or otherwise, these changes will affect all drivers, so it’s important that members take some time to be aware of them. Branches and Safety Reps should ensure the changes are drawn to members’ attention – its important!
- Rule H1 – introduces a new hierarchy of road users, recognising that drivers of larger vehicles have a greater responsibility towards more vulnerable road users: Truck drivers have the greatest responsibility, followed by van and car drivers, then motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists, before affording pedestrians the most protection. This may sound unfair but when you think about it, makes perfect sense. A mistake from a truck or van driver will cause far more harm to a cyclist or pedestrian, than a mistake by them will cause to a truck or van driver.
- Rule H2 – states that drivers should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning. This is arguably the most significant change being made and one that drivers need to be very aware of particularly if driving in areas with lots of pedestrians.
- Rule H3 – states that drivers should not cut across cyclists going ahead when 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. You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary. This is mostly obvious, however drivers should take particular care when in slow moving traffic to give way to cyclists who may be passing on the left, whether in a cycle lane or on the road.
- Rule 163 – provides guidance for overtaking motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians:
- leave a minimum distance of 1.5 metres at speeds under 30 mph
- leave a minimum distance of 2.0 metres at speeds over 30 mph
- large vehicles should leave a minimum distance of 2.0 metres in all conditions
- pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 15 mph and allow at least 2.0 metres space
- allow at least 2.0 metres space where a pedestrian is walking in the road and pass them at low speed
- drivers should wait behind the motorcyclist, cyclist, horse rider, horse drawn vehicle or pedestrian and not overtake if it is unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances.
- In other words, “pass wide and slow” and always wait until it is safe to pass.
- Rule 239 – will introduce a new technique, known as the ‘Dutch Reach’. This advises that road users should open the door of their vehicle with the hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening which naturally causes the person to twist their body making it easy to look over their shoulder and check for other road users. Drivers are then more likely to avoid causing injury to cyclists or motorcyclists passing them on the road, or to people on the pavement.
- The rules for cyclists instruct that on quiet roads, in slow-moving traffic, or at the approach to junctions or road narrowing’s; they should ride in the centre of the lane to make themselves as clearly visible as possible. Where it is safe to do so, they should move over to the left if vehicles wish to overtake. Drivers should therefore expect to see cyclists riding in the centre of the lane rather than the left. If they don’t move over immediately, bear in mind that they may be aware of hazards that you cannot see. Potholes or even painted lines in wet weather create hazards for cyclists that you may not be aware of.
To regularly monitor updates you can visit Gov.UK’s Highway Code updates page:- https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/updates
Royal Mail Group Action
Royal Mail Group’s National Road Safety Manager has issued SHE Huddle FY22 002 – “Highway Code Changes” (copy attached) to be work time briefed to all drivers on week commencing Monday 17 January 2021.
- Managers brief drivers on the key changes above.
- Drivers to be advised to familiarise themselves with The Highway Code rule changes.
- Drivers to be advised to always drive in accordance with The Highway Code and Royal Mail Driving Safe System of Work.
IMPORTANT – Would all CWU Reps ensure that all driver members are briefed on these changes.
- SHE Huddle FY22 002 – “Highway Code Changes”
- Royal Mail Group Safe System of Work
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer