Highway Code revised for all road users

Under revised guidance cyclists will be given priority, and a hierarchy of road users will be introduced


A revised Highway Code which introduces a ‘hierarchy’ of road users to improve overall road safety comes into force on 29 January 2022. Under the new guidance road users that could potentially cause the most harm to others, such as cars and vans, will have more responsibility to reduce the danger they pose to more vulnerable users.

This means that drivers will be responsible for looking out for people cycling, walking or riding a horse, while cyclists will be expected to look out for pedestrians. 

How has The Highway Code changed?

The three main changes to be aware of are:

  • Rule 1: Hierarchy of road users

The most significant rule in the updated Highway Code will be to set out a clear order of road users. Under this new guidance large passenger vehicles and HGV drivers will have the most responsibility to look out for other road users, while pedestrians will be considered the most vulnerable.

The order of road users in priority will be: 

  1. Pedestrians
  2. Cyclists
  3. Horse Riders
  4. Motorcyclists
  5. Cars/taxis
  6. Vans/minibuses
  7. Large passenger vehicles/heavy good vehicles
  • Rule 2: Clearer priorities for pedestrians

The updated Highway Code now states that a pedestrian at a junction, pedestrian crossing or waiting to cross a road that a vehicle is turning into will now have priority. In the past vehicles would have had priority.
Cyclists should also give way to pedestrians on shared use cycle tracks and are reminded that pavements are only for pedestrians.

  • Rule 3: More priority for cyclists and horse riders

The third update offers greater protection for cyclists and horse riders from vehicles on the road.
Drivers are now advised - 

  • Not to cut across cyclists or horse riders going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane.
  • To open car doors using the “Dutch reach” method which involves using the hand on the opposite side to the door to open it. This makes the driver turn their heads to look over their shoulders for any oncoming cyclists or horse riders
  • That they should leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph and give them even more space when overtaking at higher speeds.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said: “The proposed upcoming changes to the Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and were announced to national press.

“The department has established a working group of key organisations to ensure that messages about the changes are as widespread as possible, and our well-established Think! campaign will continue to ensure all road users are aware both when these changes come into effect and beyond.”

Previous Admiral MultiCover research revealed that 1 in 10 road users haven’t read The Highway Code recently.