The Highway Code is something all road users – whether you’re a driver or cyclist – should know about, as it’s essentially the rulebook for safe travel on the UK’s roads. 

Though you might think it goes years unchanged, that’s far from the truth, as it’s regularly updated to reflect the times. For 2022, a series of changes which you may not have been aware of have been made, with the rules set to come into force on January 29.

The main changes for 2022 actually concern personal responsibility on the road, as the Highway Code is aiming to set out a ‘hierarchy’ for road users. Let’s explain…

Hierarchy of road users

Like it or not, our roads are a shared space with a range of other vehicles and users. So the updated Highway Code is aiming to reflect this by showing a new hierarchy, which sets out that those who pose the greatest danger to other users have the greatest responsibility to look out for others. 

It means that cyclists have an obligation to look out for pedestrians, with car and van drivers then needing to take greater responsibility for them both. Those in the largest vehicles – such as buses and HGVs – have the most responsibility to look out for others on our roads. 

The rule, known as H1, also stresses that all road users need to ensure their own safety, as well as that of others. 

Pedestrians now have more say 

Rule H2 of the updated Highway Code is aimed at drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and cyclists, and aims to make the roads safer for pedestrians. 

It states that ‘at a junction you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.’ In practical terms, it means that if you’re turning a junction, you should give way to pedestrians so that they can safely cross. 

Drivers should be more patient to cyclists and horse riders

Next up is rule H3 in the updated Highway Code, which aims to stop drivers cutting across the path of cyclists and those on horseback. 

This includes at junctions, whether turning in or out, or if you’re changing lanes. You should wait for a safe gap before you carry out your manoeuvre. 

When overtaking, drivers should also give cyclists at least 1.5 metres at speeds up to 30mph, but more distance should be given when overtaking at higher speeds. 

All handheld use of mobile phone devices banned

It’s quite widely known that you shouldn’t use your mobile when driving, and that it’s illegal to do so. Previously, however, there was a loophole in the law that meant drivers could get away with doing so when taking photos or playing games. 

This is now being closed, meaning drivers will face punishment for ANY handheld use of a phone while driving. 

Open your car door using the ‘Dutch reach’ methods 

You’ve probably never thought about if you’re opening your car door the right or wrong way, but as part of these rules, drivers and passengers will be encouraged to use the ‘Dutch Reach’ method of opening a car door. 

This is when the driver’s far hand opens the door, which makes the body naturally turn to the direction of approaching traffic to check it’s clear – hopefully preventing more drivers from casually opening their car door into the path of other road users.