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My long await blog post regarding the Highway Code changes has finally arrived. As I explain to all my students. Even as driving instructors we are given little or no warning about these changes. No time to adapt or adjust and take in the information. It is given to us at precisely the same time as the general public and often later than the press and news channels.

The key changes are as follows:

  • introducing a new hierarchy of road users

The new hierarchy places those most at risk in order.

  • crossing the road at junctions

When people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should give way

  • walking, cycling or riding in shared spaces

There is new guidance on how to safely use shared spaces.

  • positioning in the road when cycling

There is guidance on where to position safely when cycling.

  • overtaking when driving or cycling

Leaving at least 1.5 metres when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph, and giving them more space when overtaking at higher speeds.

Passing people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph and allowing at least 2 metres of space.

Allowing at least 2 metres of space and keeping to a low speed when passing people walking in the road (for example, where there’s no pavement)

  • cycling at junctions

The code has been updated to clarify that when turning into or out of a side road, people cycling should give way to people walking who are crossing or waiting to cross.

  • people cycling, riding horses and driving horse-drawn vehicles on roundabouts

The code has been updated to clarify that people driving or riding a motorcycle should give priority to people cycling on roundabouts. The new guidance will say people driving and or riding a motorcycle should

  • parking, charging and leaving vehicles

The code gives advice about opening vehicle doors and advice about charging vehicles safely.

Read all the changes here.

How will Driving Examiners make their assessment. Its important to note that the test will not change. However, how the examiner views the candidates decisions may change.

Assessment on test

On a driving or riding test, failure to give way to someone who is clearly waiting to cross the road but is standing safely on the pavement would normally be assessed as a driving or riding fault. This is because the candidate would be deviating from the defined outcome. It’s clear though that our examiners will need to consider all factors, including:

  • the presence of following traffic

  • the speed on approach

  • the visibility and actions of the person waiting to cross

  • and whether it was clear the person intended to cross

Serious or dangerous fault

We won’t be changing the assessment level of a serious or dangerous fault with the introduction of this new rule.

If the learner driver or riders’ actions place a person crossing at risk, for example if they fail to give way to someone who is actually in the road, a serious fault would normally be recorded.

But the actions of the person walking and other road users nearby will have a bearing on how our examiner assesses the action.

They’ll consider things like:

  • what they might have done driving in the same circumstances

  • whether the actions of the person walking were reasonable and could be anticipated

  • the presence of other road users nearby

As novice drivers, candidates are more likely to err on the side of caution and this will be considered.


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