Car passengers will be impacted in new Highway Code rules as changes brought into force

New changes to the Highway Code will be affecting drivers from this coming weekend.

The government updates and changes the code in order to keep drivers safe and deter any potentially dangerous driving on the UK’s roads

The Department for Transport’s new system, which becomes law on January 29, has the potential to impact people in a number of ways.

Its ‘hierarchy of road users’ hopes to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists face greater protection on roads and at crossings.

Road accidents should hopefully be reduced as a result of the changes.

However one new rule change will affect passengers as well as drivers, so what is it?

What is the ‘Dutch reach’?

The Dutch reach is aimed at keeping passing pedestrians and cyclists safe from flung open doors.

Rule 239 is new guidance to open your car door in a way that allows you to check for others.

Passengers and drivers are encouraged to reach for the door with their opposite arm. Doing so causes their body to turn and they will be more likely to see any bicycle that could be speeding past.

If you’re a passenger sitting in the left-hand side of the car, you’d have to reach over with your right hand.

Changes to the Highway Code

One change gives priority to pedestrians© Press Association Images One change gives priority to pedestrians

The changes include 49 amendments and eight brand new rules. These affect priority access on roads including roundabouts.

Pedestrian priority at junctions

The biggest change arguably is that when cars are turning left at a junction, they must give way to any pedestrian waiting to cross.

The government said the change should: “Create clearer and stronger priorities for pedestrians, particularly at junctions, and clarify where pedestrians have right of way.”

Priority to cyclists

Priority must be given to cyclists when changing lanes or turning at a junction.

The government state: “Do not turn at a junction if to do so would cause the cyclist going straight ahead to stop or swerve, just as you would do with a motor vehicle.”

Hierarchy of road users

There is to be a change to the hierarchy of road users and this is according to how vulnerable people are in the event of an accident.

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable, followed by cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists, then cars and finally HGVs. Motorists will be told to give priority to cyclists and pedestrians.

For pedestrians, there is a mini-hierarchy of sorts, with children, older adults and disabled people top of the list ahead of other pedestrians.


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