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Written on 13th January 2022 by

New laws are coming into force on 29th January 2022, including changes to the Highway Code which are aimed at protecting vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. 

Our serious injury lawyers have dealt with many cases involving injuries to pedestrians and cyclists.  We recently secured an out-of-court settlement of £3,000,000 for a young woman who was hit by a speeding car on a pedestrian crossing and suffered a brain injury.

We also previously secured a £217,500 settlement for a cyclist who was knocked off his bicycle by the defendant driver’s van as it joined a roundabout.  He suffered a skull fracture, head injury with residual cognitive problems, maxillofacial injuries, scarring, injuries to his hip, knee, neck and back, and a psychological injury.  We worked collaboratively with the defendant’s insurer to ensure that our client had access to rehabilitation, including physiotherapy and psychological support, to maximise his recovery.

It is to be hoped that the new changes to the Highway Code will help to reduce the risk of such accidents occurring in the future.

However, the majority of UK drivers are still unaware of the changes being made to the Highway Code.  According to a poll carried out by the AA before Christmas, two thirds of its 13,000 members didn’t know that the changes are going to be made.

Changes to the Highway Code

The changes to the Highway Code include new rules which are referred to as Rule H1, Rule H2 and Rule H3.

The introduction to The Highway Code will be updated to include the following:

  • A ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ and new Rule H1 which ensures that those road users 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.
  • A new Rule H2 to create clearer and stronger priorities for pedestrians, particularly at junctions, and clarify where pedestrians have right of way.
  • A new Rule H3 which places a requirement on drivers to give priority to cyclists when they are turning into or out of a junction, or changing direction or lane, just as they would to other motor vehicles.

Pedestrians are stated as being most likely to be injured, especially children, older adults and people with disabilities.

They are followed by cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists.

Rule H1 says that drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles have the greatest responsibility to take care on the road.

They are followed by vans, minibuses, cars and taxis and motorcycles.

Horse riders, horse-drawn vehicles and cyclists also bear responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians on the road.

None of this detracts from the responsibility of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, to have regard for their own and other road users’ safety.

Rule H2 requires drivers to give way to pedestrians at junctions as well as zebra, light controlled, and parallel crossings.

Rule H3 requires drivers to give priority to cyclists when they are turning into or out of a junction, or changing direction or lane.  Motorists and motorcyclists should not cut across cyclists when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction, giving them way even when they approach from behind. Drivers will also need to leave cyclists and motorcyclists a minimum distance of 1.5 metres if going at speeds under 30mph. For speeds higher than 30mph, the safety distance will increase to 2 metres.

The changes are set out in detail here.

Other notable changes that are coming into force are as follows:

Using your mobile phone while driving

It's already illegal to text or call when you're driving, but it will also be an offence to take photos and videos, choose a song from your playlist or play games on your phone while driving.

It will still be permitted to use your phone for directions but it must be secured in a hands-free spot.

Measures to reduce emissions

Greater Manchester and Bradford will introduce their own Clean Air Zones.

The Manchester Clean Air Zone will start on May 30, 2022, while a date is yet to be announced for the Bradford Clean Air Zone.

All new properties built in England from 2022 must have an EV charging point installed.

Mandatory speed limiters for all new cars

Britain is likely to adopt a regulation approved by the European Parliament in 2019, which mandates all new cars to be fitted with speed limiters from 6 July 2022.

Our serious injury lawyers have sadly come across many cases involving speeding which has led to devastating consequences.  We recently secured a substantial settlement for the grieving husband and child of a 34-year-old woman who was unlawfully killed when her car was hit from behind at over 100mph by a speeding driver.

If you or a family member have suffered a serious injury in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence and would like to find out more about making a claim, contact us by email at piclaims@boyesturner.com.