Whether you are taking automatic or manual driving lessons, studying for your driving test or have already passed your test the recent changes to the Highway Code are one of the biggest revisions in recent years and are something every driver should know about. As part of the changes, both cyclists and pedestrians will get extra protection. The changes are essentially designed to improve safety with the biggest change being the new “heirarchy of vehicles”. Putting a new emphasis on drivers to ensure that less-threatening road users are at less risk.

The new code came into effect on the 29th January 2022 and whilst many of the revisions or updates are more advisory measures that are not legal requirements, they could be drawn upon in a court of law, so it’s important to understand all of the changes. Some of the new rules can put drivers at risk of fines and penalty points on their licence.

Below are some of the main changes, you can also find out more on gov.uk highway code updates

Hierarchy of Road Users

The Highway Code has been updated to include 3 new rules about the “hierarchy of road users”. The new hierarchy is pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles, motorcyclists, cars and taxis, vans and minibuses and then larger vehicles such as HGVs and buses.

Rule H1

Those in charge of vehicles that cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision now bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others. This applies to all road users including cyclists and horse riders. This does not detract from the responsibility of all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists to have regard for their own and other road users safety.

Rule H2

This rule applies to drivers, motorcyclists, horse-drawn vehicles, horse riders and cyclists.

At junctions, you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which you are turning.

You must give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing and to pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing. Pedestrians have priority when on a zebra crossing and on a parallel crossing or at a light-controlled crossing when they have the green signal.

Horse riders and cyclists should also give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing.

Only pedestrians may use the pavement. Pedestrians include wheelchair and mobility scooter users.

Pedestrians may use any part of the road and use cycle tracks as well as the pavement unless there are signs prohibiting pedestrians.

Rule H3

This rule applies to drivers and motorcyclists.

You 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, just as you would not turn across the path of another motor vehicle. This applies whether they are using a cycle lane, a cycle track, or riding ahead on the road and you should give way to them.

Do not turn at a junction if to do so would cause the cyclist, horse rider or horse-drawn vehicle going straight ahead to stop or swerve.

You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary. This includes when cyclists are:

  • approaching, passing or moving off from a junction
  • moving past or waiting alongside stationary or slow-moving traffic
  • travelling around a roundabout

Where previously vehicles had priority at junctions, pedestrians now get priority, meaning that drivers have to wait for them to cross.

Drivers are also required to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross in front of the vehicle when in slow-moving traffic, and should give way to cyclists when you are changing direction or lane, and should not cut across them.

You should leave at least a 1.5 metres gap when overtaking cyclists when overtaking at speeds of up to 30mph and more when overtaking at higher speeds.

Drivers should pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds of under 10mph and allow at least 2 metres of space.

When approaching a junction or roundabout where you intend to turn left you should not cut across a cyclist, horse rider, or horse-drawn vehicle that is going ahead.

Drivers should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road which the driver is turning into or out of. If pedestrians have started to cross they have priority. Motorists will have to let them cross if they see them waiting, even if it slows down their journey.


Priority should be given to cyclists on a roundabout. Drivers should give them plenty of room and not attempt to overtake them within their lane and allow them to move across the path of your vehicle as they travel around the roundabout.

Cyclists, horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles may stay in the left-hand lane when they intend to continue across or around the roundabout and should signal right to show they are not leaving the roundabout. Drivers will need to take extra care when entering a rounding to ensure they do not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse-drawn vehicles in the left lane who are continuing around the roundabout.


There was previously no road position for cyclists but they are now allowed to ride in the centre of the lane, in some situations, such as on quiet roads or streets, on narrow or bendy sections of road, when approaching junctions and in slower-moving traffic. This is to allow them to be as clearly visible as possible. They are asked to move to the left if they can safely do so to allow traffic to overtake them.

Opening your Car Door

Where you stop on the roadside and need to open your car door, you must ensure that you look all around and check your mirrors before opening your door. Where you are able to do so, you should open the door using the hand on the opposite side to the door you are opening, ie you should use your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side. This ensures that your head will turn, enabling you to see over your shoulder, making it less likely that you will cause injury to anyone passing you on the road or pavement.

More information

To find our more

The Highway Code

The Highway Code : 8 Changes you need to know from 29th January 2022

Hierarchy of Road Users – hot it’s worded and the consequences of not following rules H1 – H3