With a new year comes new changes, and the start of 2022 was no different when several new additions were made to the Highway Code to protect the most vulnerable road users.
The idea behind the changes was to help the likes of cyclists and pedestrians feel safer when using vehicle-dominated roads, hopefully reducing accidents, both minor and fatal.
The changes make drivers more aware of others, particularly when overtaking and approaching junctions.
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However, there has been some criticism of how the updates to the Code have been distributed, with many campaigners arguing that people just aren't aware of what updates have come.
As many as 60% of drivers have never read the Highway Code, according to a recent survey, let alone seen or heard about the new updates, so how can the most vulnerable feel safe when people are unaware of the changes?
Hierarchy of road users
This change encourages motorists to be extra vigilant and attentive to the most vulnerable users on the road, including pedestrians, cyclists, and horses.
At the top of the hierarchy are pedestrians, followed by cyclists, horse riders, and horse-drawn vehicles.
Every person that uses the road is ultimately responsible for their safety, and they should not rely on those below them in the hierarchy to follow the rules as the Highway Code lays out.
Giving way at junctions
If pedestrians are waiting to cross the road at a junction, the new changes say that drivers should allow them to cross before turning out of the said junction.
If a driver wanted to turn into a road and a pedestrian was waiting to cross, the driver should allow them to cross before turning.
You should give cyclists at least 1.5 metres of space when passing them at 30mph. If you are travelling faster, you need to leave the additional room.
You shouldn't overtake if there is no space to do so or if you think you could pose a risk to other road users, such as oncoming traffic.
If you're a motorist on a roundabout, you need to give priority to cyclists and horses, regardless of which exit they are planning on taking.
The vulnerable road users should stay in the left-hand lane, even if they are going across or around the roundabout.
Drivers should not attempt to overtake cyclists or horses in their lane and allow them to move across if necessary when moving around the roundabout.
Electric vehicle charging
If you drive an electric vehicle, the new change is to minimise hazards caused by the charging cable. People could easily trip over the cable and so drivers have been asked to park as close to the charging point as possible to avoid that from happening.
Once charging has been completed, you should return the cables correctly to ensure no obstacle is caused for other road users.
Leaving your vehicle
While most people already do this, the guidance is you should exit your vehicle using the hand on the opposite side of the door to open it.
For example, if you are the driver exiting on the right-hand side of the vehicle, you should use your left hand to open the door as opposed to your right.
This is so you instinctively look over your shoulder as you lean across, therefore seeing what is coming in your blind spot so you don't open the door and cause an accident.
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Walking or cycling
If you are cycling in a shared space such as a cycle path that pedestrians can also walk down, you should give pedestrians extra space and protection to keep them safe.
If you do find yourself in this situation, reduce your speed and sound your bell to let pedestrians know you're there, especially if they have their back to you.