The Highway Code and the New Hierarchy of Road Users
Published 23 May 2022
Last updated 23 May 2022
In this blog, we'll take a look at an important change to the Highway Code and give you the lowdown on how the new rules improve safety for everyone.
In this blog post we’re going to look at an important new addition to The Highway Code – the “hierarchy of road users”.
So, just what is it and how will it affect you?
Simply put, the hierarchy places those road users who are most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of a ‘scale’ or hierarchy. Pedestrians are at the top, because their lack of protection makes them extremely vulnerable in an incident. Next, we have cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists. Below that we have car and van drivers, and at that leaves us with bus and lorry drivers at the bottom.
So far, so good. But there’s one more bit to understand – the lower you are in the hierarchy, the more harm you and your vehicle can cause. This means you have to be particularly careful around more vulnerable road users. At this point, you might think: ‘Surely motorists are already more mindful of pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users, right?’
Well, of course, many people are mindful – just as many people drive sensibly and safely. But like all these things, there’s always room to improve. The new rules (also known as “H rules”) are designed to remind everyone who uses our roads how important it is to take responsibility for their own safety as well as the safety of others. In short, if we’re all looking after each other (and ourselves), then our roads should become safer places.
Where can I find the new rules?
Good question! You’ll be pleased to learn that you don’t have to look very far for them – they’re all at the front of the latest Highway Code.
What do the new rules say?
Rule H1 reminds us that we all need to be aware of The Highway Code, considerate towards other road users, and to take responsibility for our own safety and the safety of others.
This rule also tells us more about our responsibilities. If you’re in a vehicle that can cause more harm, you have a bigger responsibility to take care and reduce the danger you could pose to others. This is an important one for people in charge of lorries, buses, vans, cars and motorcycles – they need to be more mindful of cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. But it also means cyclists and horse riders have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians.
Rule H2 describes what to do at a junction when pedestrians are crossing or waiting to cross. Simply put, if you’re driving or riding and you want to turn into or out of a junction, you should give way to any pedestrians who are crossing or waiting to cross.
Rule H3 is a rule for drivers and motorcyclists. It says that you should not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles going ahead when you are turning into or out of a junction. This applies whether they are using a cycle lane, a cycle track, or riding ahead on the road and you should give way to them.
Of course, this is only a quick tour of the new rules. There’s still more to learn, so if you want to get really clued up, head over to the Safe Driving for Life Shop and pick up a brand new, updated copy of The Highway Code.