Warning to drivers over major Highway Code rule change coming into force in two weeks

By Ryan Paton

Drivers are urged to be aware of a change to the Highway Code at the end of the month.

The amendment to the rule comes into force on January 29 and will introduce a risk based hierarchy of road users.

The change means motorists will have to give way to cyclists and pedestrians at junctions going forward.

READ MORE: Drivers face £5k fine and nine points for forgetting simple action

The previous rules gave vehicles priority at junctions, so pedestrians only had right of way if they were already on the junction road.

It is a driver's responsibility to remain up-to-date with changes to the Highway Code, but the AA found in a survey last month that only a third of motorists were aware of the amendment.

Charity campaigners have issued a warning to the government that the new rules have not been promoted widely enough.

Cycling UK's Duncan Dollimore said: "Many people won't have read the Highway Code for years so it's essential that the key changes are clearly explained, with simple, accurate and memorable messages.

"These changes have legal implications. Just as we saw with the introduction of other road safety measures like mandatory seat belts and stricter drink driving laws, the public needs to be accurately informed about the new rules.

"The hierarchy of responsibility and changes to junction priority need to be explained and communicated properly, regardless of whether or not everyone agrees with them."

Provisional figures from the Department for Transport show 4,290 pedestrians and 4,700 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in crashes on Britain's roads in 2021 to the end of June.

For the first time, the law will require those who can do the greatest harm to others to have a higher level of responsibility to reduce the danger.

This means for example that someone driving will have more responsibility to watch out for people cycling, walking or riding a horse, and cyclists will have more responsibility to be aware of pedestrians.

A DfT spokesman 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."

New hierarchy after Highway Code rule change on January 29

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

You can view the full updates to the Highway Code rules here.

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