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Changes To Highway Code

There have been 3 new rules introduced for road user hierarchy. The new concept for these rules’ centres around the differing levels of risk for road users in the event of a collision. The hierarchy considers the likelihood of the road user to be injured in the event of a collision and places them at most risk and at the top of the hierarchy. This sets the precedent that van drivers have an increase in responsibility within the context of vans interacting with other road users, as in the event of a collision they are less likely to come out worse than a cyclist, pedestrian, or motorcyclist. Pedestrians and cyclists would be an example of road users at the highest risk during a collision.

What are the changes to the highway code and the key considerations when driving a van?

Road User Hierarchy Changes To Highway Code

There have been 3 new rules introduced for road user hierarchy. The new concept for these rules’ centres around the differing levels of risk for road users in the event of a collision. The hierarchy considers the likelihood of the road user to be injured in the event of a collision and places them at most risk and at the top of the hierarchy. This sets the precedent that van drivers have an increase in responsibility within the context of vans interacting with other road users, as in the event of a collision they are less likely to come out worse than a cyclist, pedestrian, or motorcyclist. Pedestrians and cyclists would be an example of road users at the highest risk during a collision. The new rules are within the context of this new concept of hierarchy for road users and are labelled as the H1, H2 & H3 updates to highway code.

  • H1: All road users having awareness of the highway code.
  • H2: Responsibilities when giving way within the new hierarchy
  • H3: Responsibilities at junctions within the new hierarchy

Updates To Highway Code For People Crossing At Junctions

There have been updates to the highway code around people crossing at junctions to better clarify how road users should behave at junctions. They state that when people are looking to cross the road at a junction any other traffic should give way.  If people have already begun to cross the road, they also maintain this priority. The update also mentions that people cycling, or riding motorcycles must give way on parallel crossings that include cycle routes alongside the crossing and at zebra crossings. Following these changes in the highway code for vans and van drivers it will be business as usual for the most part, these changes are mainly directed towards cyclists and motorcyclists in relation to pedestrians and confusion that can be sometimes created with dedicated cycle routes alongside crossings.

Walking & Cycling In Shared Spaces

The new highway code rules and updates to the highway code also state that cyclists must not pass pedestrians walking or horse riders within shared spaces closely or at high speeds. It is recommended that they slow down and make themselves known by ringing a bell, but also consider that some people may be deaf. It also explicitly states no passing horses on the left-hand side. For more information on how to behave when passing horses in a van on the road checkout this resource: Rules 214-218 highway code horses and other road users.

Road Positioning For Cyclists

There is new guidance for cyclists on positioning themselves relative to kerbs and adapting to busy or quiet road conditions within the changes to highway code. The new guidance states that they should ride in the centre of their lane on quiet roads and in slow traffic. This approach should also be taken when approaching junctions and road narrowing's. The advice states that they should keep a minimum distance of 0.5 meters away from the kerb when riding in busy road conditions when vehicles are moving at higher speeds than them. When cycling in groups they should be considerate to other road users but can ride 2 abreast when it is safer to do so, especially in the case of less experienced riders or children being with that group. They must always be mindful of drivers looking to overtake and move into single file when safe to do so or stop if need be. When driving a van it is important to be extra vigilant with cyclists and sometimes requires a level of patience. If you are going to overtake, ensure you can pass with plenty of room and at a low speed. If the cyclists are in a group be mindful of the reasons they may be riding 2 abreast, there may be an inexperienced rider or child that is out of your visibility within the group.

Highway Code Overtaking

Within the changes to highway code are updates on overtaking for cyclists and drivers. Here is a breakdown of the key changes.

  • There is now confirmation that it is ok to cross the white lines in the middle of a road when overtaking a horse rider if they are travelling at 10 mph or less.
  • When overtaking cyclists there should be a minimum of 1.5 meters between them and you for speeds up to 30 mph but if the cyclist is exceeding this the gap should be larger. 
  • When passing people walking in the road in circumstances such as no pavement for pedestrians you must allow at least 2 meters and maintain a low speed, if this can’t be done you must remain behind them until safe to overtake. 
  • When cycling it is now confirmed that riders can overtake on both the left and right with caution and understanding that they may not be visible to other road users especially at junctions and when passing larger vehicles.

Updates To Highway Code For Cycling At Junctions

The new guidance revolves around the introduction of special cycle facilities at some junctions, in which small cycle lights have been placed to separate cycle traffic and increase safety for all road users. The new guidance states that cyclists should proceed the same way they usually would at junctions without the facilities, which involves positioning themselves in the centre of their lane to avoid encouragement of dangerous overtaking and make themselves as visible as possible. The code now specifies what cyclists should do when turning right where road markings and signs tell them to turn right in 2 separate stages. When the lights turn, green cyclists should proceed to the cycle symbol and turn arrow but then stop and wait, then when the lights turns green on the far side of the junction they can proceed.

Cycling & Horse Riding On Roundabouts

This change to the highway code now states that people riding motorcycles must give priority to cyclists, this involves not overtaking cyclists and allowing cyclists to move across when travelling around the roundabout. The highway code already allows for horse riders and cyclists to stay in the left-hand lane when on a roundabout when continuing across and going around but the new guidance just emphasises extra care and explicitly states not to cut across people cycling or horse riding on roundabouts. This change in the motorbike highway code is primarily to prevent the confusion between cyclist and motorcyclist behaviour on roundabouts and explicitly outline that a cyclist has the right of way.

Charging, Parking & Leaving Vehicles

There is now recommendation for the, “Dutch Reach” when exiting your vehicle. This is where you use your hand opposite to which side your door is located on your vehicle. For instance, opening the right-side driver’s door with your left hand. The reasoning for this is to increase your visibility when opening your door and to increase safety for cycling and motorcycles that may be passing and pedestrians that way be walking past your vehicle on the pavement. By using the Dutch Reach your body is forced to turn and look over your shoulder which increases your visibility of pedestrians and other road users. For the very first time the highway code now includes advice about electric charging points for electric vehicles. The key guidance included is to park close to charge points to avoid creating potential trip hazards with the cables involved in the charging process, display a hazard warning sign if possible and to ensure charging cables are returned correctly.

Highway Code Changes 2022

If you are looking for more information on the highway code changes 2022 you can purchase the new highway code book 2022 that will break down in further detail the amendments briefly discussed in this post. You can also find more information and guidance directly from the highway code app. If you’re considering van hire options and looking to rent a van, here are a few of the most reviewed highway code rules to remember before placing your booking. 

Rule 97 Highway Code

You must have a valid UK driving licence and insurance before you drive the vehicle you intend to hire. 

Rule 237 Highway Code

The highway code rule 237 is in reference to hot weather, although we don’t see much of it, please ensure ventilation in your vehicle whilst driving to avoid drowsiness. Be aware that the road may become slippery if it rains after a dry spell which can affect your braking and steering.

Rule 129 Highway Code

When you see double white lines and the line that is nearest you is solid this means you must not cross or straddle unless it is safe, and you are looking to enter a side road or adjoining premises.

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