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New Year, New Rules: Driving Law Changes You Need to Know

With new rules for road users coming into effect at the end of January 2022, it is important that you know what they are, and how they may affect you.

Mobile phone use

It is already illegal to make a call or send a text message while driving and it’s illegal to drive without due care and attention – which could mean looking at your phone for any reason when you should be looking at the road. However, technically, until now it was legal for you to take photos or videos, play a game or choose a song from your playlist, provided that you did it safely.

From now on, it will be illegal to use your phone for any reason at any time – even when you are at a red light. Failure to meet this rule could result in a £200 fine or six points.

Note – it is still legal to use your phone for directions, but the phone must be securely located in a hands-free manner.

Highway code changes

With effect from 29th January 2022, new Highway Code changes will be in place to help protect the most vulnerable road users. Although all road users remain responsible for their safety and the safety of others, the changes are based on the concept that those most capable of doing harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce danger. The rules are labelled H1 - H3 as follows:

H1 – Drivers of larger vehicles are more responsible to look after more vulnerable road users. This creates a hierarchy system of responsibility, with goods vehicles and buses bearing most responsibility, all the way down to cars/taxis, motorbikes and non-mechanical road users such as horse riders and cyclists, who are responsible for pedestrians. However, the rule emphasises that people are also responsible for themselves.

H2 – This rule applies to any mounted road user (drivers, motorbikes, cyclists, horse riders) and states that, at a junction, road users should give way to pedestrians who are waiting to cross the road into which, or from which, the road user is turning. This means that if you are turning into a road and a pedestrian is waiting to cross, you should give way. Likewise, if you approach a junction, you should allow any waiting pedestrians to cross before you make your turn.

H3 – Rule H3 is aimed at motorists, including motorcyclists, and says that motorbikes, cars, lorries and vans shouldn’t cut in front of any other type of vehicle (cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn) when turning into or out of a junction, or changing direction or lane. So, instead of dashing out in front of a cyclist or horse at a junction, if it will make them stop or swerve, you should wait until they are a safe distance away, then make your turn.

Cyclists – cyclists are now advised to cycle in the centre of a lane, instead of tucking in to the left, leaving enough space for a vehicle to overtake if and when it is safe to do so.

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