By The Acclaim Team on 14th April 2023 in News
The Highway Code is a set of rules and guidelines for road users in the United Kingdom. It is updated regularly to reflect changes in the law and best practice. In 2022 a range of changes were made to the Highway Code, which drivers need to ensure they are aware of to properly follow the rules of the road.
Updating the Highway Code brings about multifaceted benefits for drivers and significantly enhances road safety. By revising this essential document, drivers are provided with clearer, more relevant guidelines, aiding in better understanding and adherence to road rules. This promotes a safer and more predictable driving environment. An updated Highway Code often reflects the latest insights from road safety research, integrating measures that mitigate emerging risks. This includes guidance on interacting with cyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable road users, fostering a culture of mutual respect and consideration on the roads.
Hierarchy of Road Users
One of the most significant changes is the introduction of a new "hierarchy of road users". This hierarchy prioritises those road users who are most vulnerable, such as pedestrians, cyclists, and horse riders. This means that drivers have a greater responsibility to take care of these road users, and must give way to them where possible.
The most commonly encountered occurrence of this will be at junctions. Pedestrians now have right of way at junctions, and drivers are expected to give way even if they plan to turn
The Highway Code has also been updated to provide more guidance on how to drive safely in a variety of situations, such as when driving in wet weather or when driving in a built-up area. The updated code also includes more information on the dangers of distracted driving, and how to avoid it.
The rules on using mobile phones while driving have been tightened. Drivers are now banned from using their phones for any reason, even if they are hands-free. This includes using a phone to make a call, send a text message, or check social media.
Additional emphasis has been put on reducing distractions like drinking or eating whilst driving. In order to reduce the frequency of interacting with in-car computer systems, many now lock you out of use whilst moving in order to minimise distracted driving. into that road.
Safe Passing Distance
The Highway Code now includes updated guidance on safe passing distances for drivers when overtaking vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians. The guidance states that drivers should leave at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) of space when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph, and give them more space when overtaking at higher speeds. Drivers should also leave at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space when overtaking pedestrians.
For large vehicles, the minimum distance is 2 metres in all conditions in order to better protect people from these kinds of vehicles. Additionally on motorways there should be an increased effort to be conscious of passing distances when going at the national speed limit.
There have also been protections put in place in the highway code for cyclists to reduce the frequency of road accidents involving cyclists, particularly in city environments.
One change is the encouragement of use of the "Dutch Reach". The Dutch Reach is a technique for opening a car door that helps to reduce the risk of hitting cyclists or pedestrians. To do the Dutch Reach, you should use the hand on the opposite side of the car to open the door. This will force you to turn your body and look over your shoulder, which will help you to see any cyclists or pedestrians who may be approaching.
Cyclists are now allowed to take the middle lane on roundabouts if they feel it is safer to do so. This is to reduce the vulnerability of drivers when positioned too close to the curb and from larger vehicles.
The changes to the Highway Code are designed to make the roads safer for everyone. By following the new rules, drivers can help to reduce the number of accidents and injuries on our roads. An updated highway code equips drivers with the knowledge they need to have a better road environment for all.
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