Major changes were made to the Highway Code on the 29th January 2022 and all road users are being strongly encouraged to read the new rules. In summary, the main changes are:
1. Drivers no longer have priority at junctions
2. All traffic must stop for pedestrians waiting to cross at junctions
3. Cyclists should ride wherever they feel safest
4. Drivers must wait for cyclists to pass, and treat as if motor vehicle
5. Mobile phones loophole closed
6. Poor driving decisions are more punishable
7. ‘Dutch Reach’ is the recommended way to leave your car
A little more detail on some of the changes:
Hierarchy of Road Users
Gives a hierarchy of road users, putting those most at risk in the event of a collision at the top and those least at risk towards the end. It does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly, but is common in most other European countries. The hierarchy is as follows;
- Pedestrians (in particular children, elderly adults and those with disabilities)
- Horse riders
- Large passenger vehicles/HGVs
People crossing the road at junctions
Provides stronger priority for pedestrians at junctions and clarity of who has right of way.
The new rule states that instead of people driving having priority when they turn left or right into junctions, pedestrians crossing the road will now have priority over those vehicles. Just imagine that there is a zebra crossing at every junction, similar to those found in many European cities. This is especially important to consider when children and carers are walking to and from school, especially at busy junctions such as Middle Drive / Broadway / Darras Road, Eastern Way / Middle Drive and at the roundabout at Callerton Lane / Middle Drive.
States that people driving must give priority to people cycling in a variety of situations.
Most importantly, when people cycling are at junctions they have priority in almost every scenario.
The rule also gives guidance to cycling in the middle of the lane in certain situations (note: this does not mean ‘middle of the road’ as has been quoted in many press articles), rather than on the left hand side to allow people to be more visible and discourage unsafe driving manoeuvres, and clarifies the reasons why people cycling can ride two or three abreast to make themselves safer.
All of the schools in Darras Hall and Ponteland offer Bikeability training to their pupils, so cycling to and from school is actively encouraged and you should expect to see children cycling to and from school.
And when parked, passengers and drivers are encouraged to apply the “Dutch Reach” method, which is opening the door with the opposing hand as that forces the person to turn their body thereby looking over their shoulder, making people riding motorcycles and bikes more visible and preventing ‘dooring’ incidents.
We strongly advise all drivers to read the changes to the rules make sure knowledge of the Highway Code is as up to date as it can be. Not following the Code is not automatically an offence, but it is a fantastic place to start and as it says, it is essential reading for everyone.
For a full list of the rule changes and their full text, please refer to the Government Highway Code changes.