Highway Code changes: The five new rules most likely to catch people out

28 January 2022, 16:34

Major changes to the Highway Code come into effect this Saturday
Major changes to the Highway Code come into effect this Saturday. Picture: Alamy
Dean Dunham

By Dean Dunham

This year sees a major shake up to the Highway Code. Five of the new rules are likely to catch most people out and they come into effect from this Saturday. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Drivers no longer have priority at junctions

Current rule: At present drivers have priority at junctions unless the other road user is half way across the junction.

New rule: From Saturday, if when turning at a junction you are faced with a pedestrian, cyclist, scooter or horse-rider, and they are preparing to cross the road, these more vulnerable road users have right of way.

2. All traffic must stop for pedestrians waiting at crossings

Current rule: At present drivers, cyclists and horse riders only have to stop at a zebra or parallel crossing if a pedestrian is already walking across.

New rule: From Saturday, drivers, cyclists and horse-riders are legally required to stop at zebra and parallel crossings if pedestrians are waiting to cross, not just if they are already crossing.

3. Cyclists can ride wherever they feel most visible

Current rule: At present cyclists are directed to ride on the left (i.e. not against the flow of traffic) and ensure bike lights are used at night.

New rule: From Saturday cyclists are required to ride no less than half a metre from the verge or kerb, 'further where it is safer'. Motorists must pass cyclists with at least 1.5 metres space up to 30mph or 2 metres if above 30mph. Cyclists are expected to pull to the left on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic and at busy junctions, to maximise safer overtaking opportunities.

4. Drivers to treat cyclists like they are another vehicle

Current rule: There is currently no specific rule here, save for to be on alert when driving near a cyclist.

New rule: Drivers must consider cyclists like another motor vehicle.

5. Use of handheld mobiles and devices are banned, except in emergency

Current rule: The use of mobile phones to call and text was banned in December 2003. However, this left a huge loophole and meant you could technically still use other functions on your phone whilst driving so long as it wasn’t related to a call or text.

New rule: From Saturday the loophole is closed meaning you cannot use your mobile or handheld device for anything, including taking videos or photos, scrolling through playlists or playing games—even if the vehicle isn’t moving. You can still use your phone hands free.