Around 25,000 people die or are seriously injured on Britain’s roads every year, the majority of which are either pedestrians or cyclists.

The Highway Code is changing in an attempt to make roads safer and the new rules are due to come into effect on Saturday 29th January 2022.

These new rules are split into three main categories and are aimed at protecting the most vulnerable road users, i.e. pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Rule 1: Hierarchy of road users

The first (and most significant) rule sets out the hierarchy of road users. Road users who can do the greatest harm (ie 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.

The full hierarchy of road users is:

  1. Pedestrians
  2. Cyclists
  3. Horse riders
  4. Motorcyclists
  5. Cars/taxis
  6. Vans/minibuses
  7. Large passenger vehicles/heavy goods vehicles

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.

Rule 2: Clearer and stronger priorities for pedestrians

This rule is aimed at drivers, motorists, horse riders and cyclists.

The Highway Code now clearly states 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 and travelling on a roundabout

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’.

If you have been injured as a result of a road traffic accident within the last three years and wish to make a claim, please feel free to contact the writer, Lisa Chambers, on 0161 930 5156 or for a no-obligation discussion.

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