The Dutch Reach and other new 2022 Highway Code rules drivers need to know

New changes to The Highway Code will establish a “hierarchy of road users” (Shutterstock)New changes to The Highway Code will establish a “hierarchy of road users” (Shutterstock)
New changes to The Highway Code will establish a “hierarchy of road users” (Shutterstock)

New changes to The Highway Code will establish a “hierarchy of road users” - which will prioritise cyclists and pedestrians at junctions and roads.

Although these new changes are coming into effect on January 29 2022, subject to parliamentary approval, only a third of 13,500 people surveyed from an AA questionnaire were aware of the changes.

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The “hierarchy of road users” means that those who can do greater harm on the road have a higher level of responsibility to reduce the danger.

What are the new rules?

More exposed road users will have a higher priority, starting with pedestrians then cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists, cars and taxies, and vans and minibuses, then larger buses, and lorries.

The main objective of the changes is not to give priority to pedestrians, cyclists, and horse-riders in every situation, but “rather to ensure a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users” the Department for Transport said.

“Everyone suffers when road collisions occur, whether they are physically injured or not. But those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.”

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New rules for cyclists 

One new rule will provide more boundaries for cyclists, where drivers are to maintain a 1.5m distance when overtaking bikes and motorbikes at 30mph.

Cyclists are recommended to ride in the middle of the road in slow or quiet traffic and when approaching junctions.

Another new rule says: “Cyclists should ride in single file when drivers wish to overtake and it is safe to let them do so. When riding in larger groups on narrow lanes, it is sometimes safer to ride two abreast.”

Who gets priority at junctions?

At junctions, the priority will be pedestrians. The code says: “At a junction, you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.

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“You must give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing.”

What is the new way to open your car door? 

The Dutch Reach method of opening car doors is expected to be encouraged with the new rules and rewordings.

The Dutch Reach is when the driver’s far hand opens their car door, so the body turns towards the direction of approaching traffic to check if it is clear.

A Department of Transport spokesman said: “The proposed upcoming changes to the Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and were announced to national press.

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“The department has established a working group of key organisations to ensure that messages about the changes are as widespread as possible and our well-established Think! campaign will continue to ensure all road users are aware both when these changes come into effect and beyond.”

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