New Heirarchy of Road Users from 29 January 2022


A number of changes to the Highway Code will take effect from 29 January 2022.

Among the new rules, a hierarchy of road users is being introduced which places more responsibility on drivers of larger vehicles to look after vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.

The updated code states: “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. This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, vans/minibuses, cars/taxis and motorcycles.”

The hierarchy also places responsibility on cyclists and horse riders to look after pedestrians, with specific reference to a change in priority at junctions: “At a junction [drivers, motorbike riders, horse riders and cyclists] should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.”

For drivers and motorcyclists, it is stated 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 or changing direction or lane.” 

Motorists should wait for a safe gap before turning into a junction, and not turn if doing so would cause a cyclist or horse rider to stop or swerve.

Cyclists are advised to take care when overtaking pedestrians and horses by slowing down and alerting them using their bell, and are advised to ride in the centre of their lane to make themselves more visible on quiet roads and in slow moving traffic, or on the approach to junctions when it would be unsafe for a vehicle to overtake.

Cyclists also have to give way to pedestrians on shared use cycle tracks and are advised to leave enough space for drivers to overtake when it is safe to do so on faster moving or busier roads.

The proposal also stresses that all road users have a responsibility to ensure their own safety, as well as that of others.

The new rules form part of the Highway Code, which is advisory only. Since the rules do not constitute changes to the law, individuals won’t be prosecuted for failing to comply. However, individuals found to be at fault in an accident as a result of not complying with the Highway Code may face charges in court, since the Highway Code can in some cases be used in court to establish liability in the event of an accident under the Road Traffic Act.


Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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