8 Highway Code changes most drivers don’t know – including rule for opening door

Almost all UK drivers would fail their theory tests if they were to retake them today – and it may be because they haven’t kept up with Highway Code changes, according to new research.

The code, which is usually updated every year, underwent some changes in January.

But many drivers are out of date on their knowledge, posing a risk to themselves and others on the road.

A new survey, conducted by Age Co, found that only one in 10 UK drivers would have the proper knowledge to pass their theory test now.

Recently, it was reported that 52% of drivers have either never read the Highway Code, or can’t remember it at all.

So we’ve compiled a list of all the latest key changes to help refresh your memory:

  1. Hierarchy of road users
    There are three new rules about a “hierarchy of road users” which shows who is most to least at risk of collision.

But it stresses that all those listed must behave responsibly and comply with the three rules, which are as follows:

  • All drivers are considerate to other road users.
  • You should not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles going ahead when you are turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane.
  • At a junction you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.

In order, the hierarchy (from highest to lowest risk) is:

  1. Pedestrians
  2. Cyclists
  3. Horse riders
  4. Motorcyclists
  5. Cars and taxis
  6. Vans and minibuses
  7. HGVs
  1. People crossing the road at junctions
    This rule states that when people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should give way.

But if they’ve already started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, then those crossing have priority and the traffic should give way.

The updated rule also says anyone driving, riding a motorcycle or cycling must give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing.

  1. Walking, cycling or riding in shared spaces
    People who are cycling, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle should look out for pedestrians walking in these spaces, while pedestrians should also take care not to obstruct or endanger them.

Cyclists have been asked to not pass people walking, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle closely or at high speed, especially from behind. They should not pass a horse on the horse’s left.

The new rules state they should also slow down when necessary and alert pedestrians that they are nearby, by ringing a bell for example.

Cyclists must keep in mind that people walking may be deaf, blind or partially sighted.

  1. Positioning in the road when cycling
    People cycling are advised to ride in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or a road narrowing.

They should keep at just over 1.5 feet away from the curb edge when riding on busy roads with faster moving vehicles.

  1. Overtaking when driving or cycling
    New guidance on overtaking says drivers and cyclists should leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph.

When passing people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph, at least two metres of space should be left.

You must allow at least two metres of space and keep to a low speed when passing people walking in the road, if for instance a pavement is not accessible.

  1. People cycling at junctions
    When cyclists are turning into or out of a side road, they should give way to people walking who are crossing or waiting to cross.

The rule also includes new guidance on special cycle facilities at certain junctions.

  1. People cycling, riding a horse and driving horse-drawn vehicles on roundabouts
    New rules say people driving or riding a motorcycle should:
  • Not attempt to overtake people cycling within that person’s lane
  • Allow people cycling to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout

People driving should take extra care when entering a roundabout to make sure they do not cut across people cycling, or riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle who are continuing around the roundabout in the left-hand lane.

  1. Parking and leaving vehicles
    The Dutch Reach method has been included in the latest guidance.

The Dutch Reach says drivers who are able to should use their opposite hand to open the door, forcing their body to turn towards the back of the car.

This allows them to check if there is any oncoming traffic – and is less likely to cause collisions.