New Highway Code rules to make roads ‘even safer’

11.46 | 14 September 2021 | | 3 comments

New rules to improve safety on England’s motorways and high-speed roads have come into effect, in a ‘major update’ to The Highway Code.

More than 3,200 people and organisations took part in a consultation to help National Highways (formerly Highways England) and the DVSA to decide on the details.

The update is designed to include clearer advice on:

  • Where to stop in an emergency
  • The importance of not driving in a lane closed by a Red X
  • How variable speed limits are used to keep traffic flowing

There is also updated guidance on key factors that contribute to safety-related incidents, including driving while tired, unroadworthy vehicles, safe towing, tailgating and driving in roadworks.

Nick Harris, chief executive of National Highways, said: “Although our motorways and major A-roads are already among the very safest in the world, this new guidance will help road users be even safer.

“It includes clear, practical information such as how variable speed limits work and advice about where to stop in an emergency. This will help drivers use our roads safely and feel safe doing so, and I urge all drivers to read it.”

In total, 33 existing rules in The Highway Code have been amended and two new rules introduced.

Updating The Highway Code is one of the measures set out in the transport secretary’s 18-point action plan to improve safety and public confidence on all-lane running (ALR) motorways.

Baroness Vere, roads minister, said: “As we build back better and modernise roads across the country, the safety of road users continues to be our utmost priority. 

“That’s why these changes have been brought in as part of our 18-point action plan to further improve safety on our motorways and high-speed roads.

“It is vital that all drivers keep up to date with The Highway Code. This updated guidance will give everyone on our roads the confidence that they have the knowledge and skills to make journeys safely.”



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    As many motorists are not currently obeying the existing highway code essentials, unfortunately I don’t think there’s much chance of geting them interested in any new advice. It’s becoming a free-for-all out there.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

    Good in principle that there is now apportioned blame according to the type of vehicle because that is a starting point for placing responsibility for safety on the driver which means they have to start taking ownership of their own safety. And taking ownership of their own safety is a key element, even with all the so called safety gizmos now fitted to vehicles, which tend to move the mindset in the opposite direction.

    The emphasis on the danger of tailgating (and the definition of it) in 126 is good but, it still misses a major point by essentially recommending the minimum 2 second gap on high speed roads and ‘in tunnels and where visibility is reduced’. That’s really bad. Police driving schools used to recommend a minimum of 2 seconds and preferably 3-4 seconds when not planning to overtake – without any conditions attached, so that a driver could always pull up on the distance he or she could see to be clear. Space is really a key element in being safe on the roads and only recommending a minimum of 2 seconds in certain conditions is not good news.

    Nigel Albright, Taunton
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    This is a great piece of work. What is needed now, is a national communications/publicity campaign to inform the public of the new advice. In my experience very few people re-read the highway code once they have passed the driving test. If it’s not thrust in their face the changes and new advice will be unknown to them.

    Alan Kennedy, Durham
    Agree (14) | Disagree (0)

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