Changes to the Highway Code January 2022: everything you need to know

Significant changes to the Highway Code come into force on the 29th January, including 8 new rules being introduced and updates to 49 pre-existing regulations.

One of the changes highlighted is a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ - prioritising vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians.


What are the main changes to the Highway Code?

There is more responsibility on drivers of large vehicles to look after more vulnerable road users. 

Rule H1 states that ‘those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to other road users.’

This rule is most applicable to drivers of heavy goods and large passenger vehicles but is also applicable to vans, minibuses, cars & taxis, and motorcycles.

Similarly, another update states that a driver ‘should not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse-drawn vehicles going ahead when you are turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane.’ This is to avoid vulnerable road users from having to stop or swerve on the road.


Stricter rules on mobile phone usage while in your vehicle. 

Offences now include, but are not limited to:

  • Taking photos or videos
  • Selecting a song on a playlist
  • Playing games on your phone


These rules are applicable even when you are stopped at a red light.

If you have a hands-free device, you are still allowed to use it for directions but could be fined up to £200 and gain up to 6 points on your license if you are using your mobile phone for entertainment purposes.


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New advice regarding opening vehicle doors

To further protect cyclists or vulnerable road users, the DVLA are suggesting that drivers and passengers use the ‘Dutch reach’ when opening a vehicle door.

This advice states that, where possible, you should open the door using your hand on the opposite side to the door you’re opening. For example, using your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side. In turn, this will naturally make you turn your head and look over your shoulder, making you more likely to avoid causing injury to cyclists, motorcyclists, or pedestrians that may be passing you on the road or pavement respectively.


What do these changes to the Highway Code mean for my existing transport policy?

To keep both your team and your transport policy up to date, it is more important than ever to continually train and update your drivers on any key changes to the Highway Code.

Ensuring your drivers are safe on the road is a key part of protecting both your staff and your team under Work Related Road Risk (WRRR). The increasing frequency and scope of changes, driven by new technology and legislation requires employers to take extra steps to ensure that their teams and their vehicles remain compliant.

Your duty of care under WRRR includes, but is not limited to:

  • Regularly training your team
  • Checking their vehicles are compliant
  • Ensuring that the vehicles your team are using are fit for purpose - e.g. transporting heavy goods in a van, not a car.

Keep your teams up to date with these changes to the Highway Code to minimise potential risks that they may face while travelling on behalf of the organisation and maximise the safety of your employees as well as anyone they may encounter. 

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