The new Highway Code coming into effect next week will introduce a 'hierarchy' for road users, with pedestrians and cyclists placed right at the top.
Despite the Department for Transport insisting ‘all road users are aware’ of what’s happening, the AA has warned that two-thirds of the 13,000 people it polled before Christmas did not know changes were coming.
Here’s everything you need to know about what’s new ahead of their introduction at the end of January.
What’s the key change?
The main focus has been on creating a ‘hierarchy’ of road users, giving priority to those that are more vulnerable. It means those who can do the greatest harm to others have a higher level of responsibility to reduce the danger.
As an example of this, it is the responsibility of a car driver to be aware of cyclists.
Most of the changes for cyclists and other road users are specifically aimed at what to do at junctions and roundabouts.
The code now says: "You should not cut across cyclists going ahead when 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 cyclists 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 going straight ahead to stop or swerve, just as you would do with a motor vehicle."
If you are going to overtake a cyclist new rules designed to further protect two-wheeled road users suggest that you should leave 1.5 metres when overtaking at speeds of up to 30mph. You should give them even more space when overtaking at higher speeds.
This rule also applies to horses on the road.
What about other changes?
A similar rule to the cyclist hierarchy is now in place for pedestrians, with the new guidelines saying a driver should stop in the middle of turning onto or exiting a road in order to let a person cross.
One of the more unusual rules included is a recommendation that you should open the door of a parked car using the ‘Dutch Reach’ method.
This involves using the opposite hand to the one that’s closest to the door, because it means you reach across your body and turn outwards.
This means you naturally check what’s coming and reduces the risk of opening your door on a cyclist.
There is also a new rule saying people should take extra care when plugging in their electric cars in order to not create a trip hazard with the wires.
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