The Highway Code update

9 Aug 2021

The UK government has recently published The Highway Code consultation response. A series of rules are set to be amended to improve safety for pedestrians, particularly children, older adults and disabled people, cyclists, and horse riders*. 

Last year the government held a consultation for updating the Highway Code between July-Oct 2020. CLOCS discussed the proposed changes with our Strategy, Standards and Governance Board and submitted a formal response in October 2020. We also urged all CLOCS Champions to review and submit their own responses.

There were three main proposed changes:

  1. introducing a hierarchy of road users to ensure those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others
  2. clarifying existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements and that drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road
  3. establishing guidance on safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking cyclists or horse riders, and ensuring they have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead

The proposed changes have been met with mixed reactions from different CLOCS stakeholder groups. Some have praised its focus on the most vulnerable road users while others want further clarity and an education system to ensure everyone knows how to behave safely.

Kate Cairns, CLOCS instigator, lead author of the CLOCS Highways Code Consultation response, and member of the Strategy, Standards and Governance Board stated: "Creating safe spaces is about identifying and reducing risk at source. On the streets, it is construction industry vehicles that are disproportionate in cyclist and pedestrian deaths and injuries. Construction HGVs are also a source of fear, and therefore deterrent, to active travel." 

"The hierarchy of responsibility (Rule H1) states those who pose the greatest harm must take the responsibility to reduce the threat they pose, and of course they are best placed to do so. This is the crux of CLOCS. CLOCS challenges and encourages those procuring, planning and delivering infrastructure to create the safest possible journeys of vehicles servicing projects. It also makes for more responsible, ethical and profitable business. I welcome these changes in the journey towards Vision Zero."

What are your views? How can we make vulnerable roads users safer on our roads?

What now?

“The majority of respondents to the consultation were in favour of all the changes proposed, believing that they would improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. They welcomed the timing of the changes as more people embrace alternative modes of transport, with cycling and walking on the increase. Feedback also emphasised the importance of offering greater protection to those road users.” Government Exec Summary

The government undertook analysis of the feedback and will seek to introduce all the proposed changes, factoring in valid comments received.

The government will now lay the revised version of The Highway Code before both House of Parliament. If Parliament agrees, they will work with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to update The Highway Code online and to produce a new hard copy edition. Dates are pending.

CLOCS will also discuss the changes with our Working Group to help ensure we continue supporting the safest construction vehicle journeys.

Read more here:

*The amends do not include motorcyclists.