Myths About the New Highway Code Changes – True or False

Myths About the New Highway Code Changes – True or False


The end of January saw the introduction of changes to the highway code.

These changes gave more priority to road users more at risk and more responsibility to larger vehicles.

The new rules aim to make laws about road safety clearer and more specific. But amid all these changes, some things have become lost in translation.

So we’ve put together a definitive list of all the new Highway code rules and busted some myths.


Cyclists must now ride two abreast – FALSE


Many drivers think the new rules now allow cyclists to ride side by side on the roads.

But the truth is that this has always been acceptable in the right circumstances. The Highway code previously stated that cyclists can ride alongside each other when appropriate. The new rules now include specific examples of what is appropriate and what isn’t.
It now reads:

“You can ride two abreast and it can be safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders”.

This is one of the many new rules that clarify road safety rules around cyclists.
For example, drivers are no longer allowed to cut across a cyclist when turning at a junction or changing lanes. This is not a surprising update when you consider that between 2011 and 2016 almost half of the cyclists killed or seriously injured in the UK were at road junctions.



You must give half a football pitch worth of space to cyclists – FALSE


This is one of the more extreme rumors about the new rules that we’ve heard.

The idea that you now have to keep a distance of half a football pitch between you and a cyclist is simply not true. Not to mention this would be completely impractical.

It’s true that drivers should give as much space and safety to cyclists. The change in the highway code simply clarifies this and gives a guideline distance.

Drivers must now give at least 1.5 meters of space between them and a cyclist when traveling 30mph or less.

The new rule recommends that drivers give more space when they can and if a driver is traveling faster.


The new hierarchy puts drivers at the bottom – FALSE

Although this isn’t entirely inaccurate, drivers of standard cars are not at the bottom of the ranking. The new hierarchy actually ranks HGV and Large vehicles at the bottom. This means they have more responsibility and less priority when it comes to road safety.Pedestrians are at the top of the list and this isn’t something new. What is new but, is that drivers are now required to stop for pedestrians. If a driver sees a pedestrian waiting at a crossing, they must stop and allow them to cross safely.
Previously drivers only had to stop if a pedestrian was already crossing. Horses and cyclists were also warned to give more priority to pedestrians.


Cyclist must use cycle lanes – FALSE

It’s true that the government is planning to build more cycle routes along with the road network. This is all part of the £338 million packages to encourage more people to cycle from the Department for Transport (DfT). The highway code states that cyclists are not obligated to use the lanes. Instead, it states that cyclists should use “should exercise their judgment” when it comes to traveling on the roads.

The main arguement for changes has been to formalize and clarify certain rules within the Highway code. Some actions that were previously seen as courteous are now considered a matter of road safety. So whether you’re walking cycling or driving, following the updated rules can help all road users keep safe.



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Myths About the New Highway Code Changes – True or False