5 Changes To The Highway Code You Need To Know

This is our guide to recent changes to the Highway Code in Britain.  On 29th January 2022, there were 8 new rules introduced, as well as 49 updates to rules already in place. In this article, we will focus on the 5 changes that you are most likely to encounter on the road and how they could lead to an accident.

If you have been the victim of a road traffic accident due to another road user’s negligence then you could be owed compensation. Not being aware of changes to the Code will not make you exempt from having to follow them.

Changes to the Highway Code

Changes to the Highway Code guide

Get in touch with our advisors if you have any questions or concerns. They can be reached at any time of the day or night. Read on to find out more.

Select A Section

  1. The New Hierarchy Of Road Users Under The Highway Code
  2. Giving Cyclists More Room Under The Highway Code 
  3. Pedestrians Get Priority At A Junction
  4. Updated Rules For Motorcyclists And Drivers At Junctions
  5. The Dutch Reach Technique In The Highway Code
  6. Road Accident Compensation Calculator
  7. Contact Our No Win No Fee Road Accident Claims Team

The New Hierarchy Of Road Users Under The Highway Code

There is a hierarchy of road users in the Highway Code, which was introduced with the new changes. It is in place to protect the most vulnerable road users from other, more powerful vehicles. Pedestrians are at the top of this hierarchy because they have the least potential to cause harm and are at the greatest risk of sustaining injury. 

Bicycles are next, and then motorcycles. Other motor vehicles, such as cars, buses and HGVs, are at the bottom. The larger the vehicle and the more potential for it to cause serious injury, the lower down the hierarchy the road user is. 

When this hierarchy is not properly observed, then injuries could occur. The road user responsible could be said to have acted negligently and a claim might be made against them as a result.

However, it’s important to note that this is not a reason for pedestrians and other road users that are lower on the hierarchy to act in any way that they please. It’s important that all road users behave responsibly while on the roads and adhere to the guidance set out.

Giving Cyclists More Room Under The Highway Code 

Another update to the Highway Code states that motorists should give cyclists more room on the road. This can reduce the risk of a collision when a motorist is overtaking a cyclist. In addition to this, it’s been clarified that cyclists are permitted to ride in positions other than at the side of the road when safe to do so.

For example, cyclists may ride in the middle of the road in these situations:

  • On quiet roads
  • In slower-moving traffic
  • When approaching a junction
  • When the road narrows

If you’re driving or riding a motorcycle and are overtaking a vulnerable road user (like a cyclist or a horse rider), you should allow at least 1.5 metres when travelling at 30mph. If you’re travelling faster, you should give even more room. 

If a cyclist fails to follow the guidance set out in the Highway Code then this could affect how much they receive in compensation should they be injured due to another road users negligence. When a cyclist is partially at fault for their own injuries then this is known as contributory negligence or split liability. The same could be said if they contribute to the severity of their injuries by, for example, not wearing a helmet

If a cyclist is completely at fault for the accident that caused them to be injured, then they’re unlikely to receive compensation at all. 

You can learn more about the proof you’ll need for cycling accident claims in another of our guides.

Pedestrians Get Priority At A Junction

If you’re a driver at a junction, and you see a pedestrian crossing or waiting to cross a road that you’re turning into, you should give way to them. Failure to do so could result in a pedestrian being hit at a junction

If a pedestrian is crossing on a zebra crossing, or a pedestrian or cyclist is crossing on a parallel crossing, then drivers must give way to these road users. They should also give way if pedestrians or cyclists are waiting to cross.

For more information on the changes that have been made to the Highway Code, speak with a member of our claims team today.

Updated Rules For Motorcyclists And Drivers At Junctions

As mentioned above, motorcyclists and drivers are lower than cyclists and pedestrians on the hierarchy. This means both cyclists and pedestrians are advised to give way to pedestrians in most scenarios.

Furthermore, drivers and motorcyclists should give priority to those who are cycling on a roundabout. They shouldn’t overtake cyclists in their lane and they should allow cyclists to move across their path as they progress around the roundabout.

It’s also important that drivers are aware when entering a roundabout. This can prevent them from cutting across the paths of cyclists, horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles who remain in the left-hand lane of the roundabout despite travelling around it.

The Dutch Reach Technique

There is also a new recommendation regarding how motorists should open vehicle doors. It’s called the Dutch Reach Technique. This is when the occupant of the vehicle reaches over and opens the door with their arm furthest away.

For example, if you are sitting with the door on your left, you are advised to reach over the open the door with your right hand. This can increase the chances of the occupant seeing a passing road user such as a pedestrian or cyclist, reducing the risk of hitting them with the car door and possibly causing them to be injured.

Using the Dutch Reach Technique in practice could be considered part of a motorist’s duty of care to other road users. For more information on the updates to the Highway Code, speak with a member of our claims team today. 

Road Accident Compensation Calculator

Injuries sustained in a road traffic accident can vary in severity. The amount that is calculated to acknowledge your physical pain and mental suffering is known as general damages. Legal professionals will arrive at an appropriate value for this sum with the help of the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG).

The JCG was last updated in 2019. It’s a publication that consists of a list of injuries that can be caused by negligence and a range of monetary figures that may constitute a suitable amount for compensation.

We’ve included some example entries from the JCG in the table below.

Injury Description Amount
Paralysis (b) Paraplegia – the amount will depend on things like the extent/presence of pain and the effect on mental health and/or the individual’s independence  £205,580 to £266,740
Head/brain (A) Brain damage, (c) Moderate – (iii) where memory and concentration are affected and things like the ability to work are reduced £40,410 to £85.150
Post-traumatic stress disorder (c) Moderate – you will have largely recovered, but if any symptoms remain then they won’t be too disabling £7,680 to £21,730
Eye (h) Minor – such as being struck in the eye, leading to some temporary vision issues £3,710 to £8,200
Chest (A) (c) Damage to the lung(s), leading to some lasting disability £29,380 to £51,460
Kidney (H)(c) Loss of a kidney, but the other is undamaged £28,880 to £42,110
Neck (c) Minor – (iii) when only three months is required to make a complete recovery Up to £2,300
Shoulder (c) Moderate – limited movement for about 2 years due to frozen shoulder or soft tissue injuries £7,410 to £11,980
Arm (b) Permanent and substantial disablement – when one or both forearms are fractured, leading to lasting functional or cosmetic disability £36,770 to £56,180
Wrist (e) Colles’ fracture without complications In the region of £6,970

Special Damages

Expenditures that can be directly linked to your injuries are called special damages. You will need to back them up with evidence such as payslips and receipts. 

For instance, you may have spent or lost money as a result of your injury. To illustrate, it’s possible that you may have been forced to take time off work due to your injuries. This could result in a loss of earnings

For more information on what could be included in the special damages head of a road accident claim, speak with a member of our team today. They could also explain how the changes to the Highway Code might affect liability in a personal injury claim.

The Whiplash Reform Programme (WRP)

There is now also a way to claim compensation for drivers and their passengers if their injuries are worth under £5,000. They can do so through an online government portal known as the Whiplash Reform Programme.

Only drivers and their passengers can make use of this portal. To be eligible, there are other criteria that must be met:

  • The accident must have taken place on or after 31st May 2021
  • The claimant must be 18 or over
  • Injuries must have been sustained as a driver or passenger (cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and other road users do not have to claim through the WRP)

Despite the name of the reform, whiplash is not the only injury that can be claimed for in this manner. Any injuries that are worth less than £5,000 must be claimed through the online portal. 

Contact Our No Win No Fee Road Accident Claims Team

All of the expert personal injury solicitors on our panel work under a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that, should you enlist their services, you won’t need to pay your solicitor unless your claim is successful.

Even then, only a small percentage is taken from your compensation to cover their fees. This percentage is capped by law so that the majority of your compensation is protected.

If your claim does not succeed and you are not awarded compensation, then you aren’t required to pay your solicitor’s costs. You also won’t be asked to pay anything to them upfront to secure their services or as the claims process progresses. 

Speak to us today to see if you could make a No Win No Fee claim.  It’s best to start your claim as soon as possible, as the time limit to do so can expire.

Where To Find Out More

There are some additional links below that lead to the information you may find helpful.

  1. Advice for road users from THINK! – a government road safety campaign.
  2. Find out how to appoint a litigation friend to claim on behalf of someone else.
  3. And NHS guide to whiplash.
  4. Read about car accident victims rights.
  5. Find out how long you have to report a car accident.
  6. How to claim if you’re hit by an uninsured driver.
  7. A guide on claiming with road traffic accident solicitors
  8. Passenger road traffic accident claims
  9. Road accident solicitors – why work with a claims expert?

Thank you for reading our guide on recent changes to the Highway Code.

Writer IB

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