New driving regulations, including changes to who gets priority at roundabouts, will come into effect on 29 January.
The updated Highway Code rulebook is part of the Department for Transport’s £338 million investment strategy to encourage more cycling and walking.
What are the new roundabout rules?
One of the updated rules applies to drivers who are on the same roundabout as a cyclist.
A risk-based hierarchy is coming into effect, which gives priority to vulnerable road users such as horse and bike riders.
Rule 186 now says: “Give them the plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane. Allow them to move across your path as they travel around the roundabout.
“Drivers should take extra care when entering a roundabout to ensure that they do not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles in the left-hand lane, who are continuing around the roundabout.”
The risk-based hierarchy is as follows:
- Horse riders
- Vans and minibuses
- Large passenger vehicles and heavy goods vehicles
Road users who pose the greatest risk, such as heavy goods vehicles, have been given the greatest responsibility to minimise the risk for those more vulnerable.
As well as roundabouts, this hierarchy will be in effect at all junctions and crossings.
it means, for example, that when a car is turning into or exiting a road, they should stop to let pedestrians cross.
What is the Highway Code?
The Highway Code, first published in 1931, is a set of information, guides and mandatory rules for road users in the United Kingdom.
It contains information about road signs, road markings, vehicle markings, and road safety. There is guidance on license requirements, documentation, penalties, and vehicle security and maintenance.
The code applies to all road users, including the most vulnerable – pedestrians, mobility scooter users, cyclists and horse riders.
What other new rules are coming in for 2022?
Stricter restrictions on mobile phone usage when driving are also being implemented. Failure to comply with these could cost £200 in a fixed penalty or six points on a license.
It will become an offence to take photographs or videos when driving, select a song from a playlist or play games even when stopped at a red light or junction.
Drivers should have at least 1.5 metres when overtaking a bicycle at speeds of up to 30mph and give them more space than this at a higher speed, while cyclists have a greater responsibility to look out for those walking.
The “Dutch reach” method – opening car doors with the hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening – should also now be used to reduce the likelihood of hitting a passing cyclist with the door.
It makes drivers turn their heads to look over their shoulder and check for vulnerable road users.
Steve Gooding, director of the motoring research charity RAC Foundation, said: “The changed guidance relating to the priority to be given at junctions has the potential to be confusing.
Knowing that you had the right of way according to the new code is going be little comfort if you’re the one who ends up getting hurt.”