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Highway Code Update 2021

With significant updates to the Highway Code due to be approved by Parliament in autumn 2021, Account Executive Ian Limeburner explores the headline changes so you can stay safe on the road.

The Highway Code is, on the whole, a fairly static document. Updates tend to be few and far between, so many road users have become accustomed to only checking the document sporadically – if at all.

However, new rules mean that drivers should take the time to review and understand the changes. Any confusion around who has priority and when could result in serious accidents and insurance claims. 

Remember: if you manage a fleet of vehicles, you have a corporate responsibility to ensure your employees drive safely and remain up to date with the Highway Code.

The updates are part of a Department for Transport scheme to boost ‘active travel’, such as cycling and walking, following the pandemic. It is hoped that the changes will encourage more people to leave their cars at home. 

Hierarchy of Road Users

The biggest change to the Highway Code is the introduction of a new ‘hierarchy of road users’. The Department for Transport Consultation states that road users who pose the greatest risks have the greatest responsibility to ‘reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others’.

New Priorities

Previous versions of the Highway Code advise pedestrians to wait until traffic has passed until stepping into the road. Once the new code is introduced, pedestrians have priority and vehicles should stop to let them cross safely.

Rules for cyclists will also change, giving them priority when going straight over a junction. Plus, new guidance on how to pass cyclists, including speed and distance, will be introduced.

In addition, vehicle users will also be advised to leave their cars using the ‘Dutch reach’ method to avoid collisions. This method involves opening the car door from the inside using the hand furthest from the handle, so you have to turn to see if anything is coming from behind. 

Stay alert

Be sure to keep an eye on the Highway Code website to stay abreast of any changes or updates to the rules for your category of vehicle. 

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