Published: 5th January 2021

The government has announced changes to the Highway Code which are set to be introduced in 2022. The changes aim to give the most vulnerable road users more protection.

Hierarchy of road users

One major change set to be introduced is an official “hierarchy of road users” which aims to protect vulnerable road users.

According to the updated Highway Code, the ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ is a concept that places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy.

The hierarchy means that those who can do the greatest harm will have the greatest responsibility.

This reform aims to ensure the most vulnerable road users do not face increased risk on the roads, and those in larger vehicles are more vigilant towards road users more likely to be injured in the event of a collision.

This rule is due to come into effect from 29 January 2022.

Priority for cyclists when cars are turning

This change to the Highway Code means that drivers and motorcyclists should not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles going ahead when turning into or out of a junction, or changing direction or lane.

It is further noted that a motorist should not make a turn in one of these instances that would cause the cyclist, horse riser or horse drawn vehicle going straight ahead to stop or swerve.

Safe Passing Distances

Amongst the upcoming changes, safe passing distances have been clarified for motorists when overtaking pedestrians, cyclists and horses, including the following:

  • Must give at least 1.5 metres distance when overtaking cyclists at speeds under 30mph;
  • Must give at least 2.0 metres distance when overtaking cyclists at speeds over 30mph;
  • Pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10mph and allow at least 2 metres of space;
  • Allow at least 2 metres of space and keep to a low speed when passing a pedestrian who is walking in the road (for example on a road without a pavement).

It is advised that extra care should be taken to give more space when motorcyclists are overtaking these road users.

Mobile Phones

This year, rules regarding the usage of mobile phones will be strengthened making it illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving under virtually any circumstance.

This update in legislation aims to further improve road safety, and will make hand-held phone use at traffic lights or in traffic jams illegal.


The changes due to come into effect this year are closely aligned with the Department for Transport’s £338 million budget to boost cycling and walking across the country, as the government is committed to building a greener future through increased focus on active travel.

Serious Law welcomes any changes put in place to ensure safety for road users, and encourage road users to familiarise themselves with the new rules to ensure the safety of themselves and others when on the roads.


For the full list of amendments to the Highway Code, please read:


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