The government has said the new driving laws will come into place on January 29 to make the roads safer for all who use them, creating a “hierarchy of road users” in the process.
The “hierarchy of road users” means that those who can do greater harm on the road have a higher level of responsibility to reduce the danger.
A Department of Transport spokesman said: “The proposed upcoming changes to the Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and were announced to the national press.
“The department has established a working group of key organisations to ensure that messages about the changes are as widespread as possible and our well-established Think! campaign will continue to ensure all road users are aware both when these changes come into effect and beyond.”
Many people did not know of the changes to the Highway Code, with only a third of 13,500 people surveyed from an AA questionnaire aware.
What are the new rules?
More exposed road users will have a higher priority, starting with pedestrians, then cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists, cars and taxies, and vans and minibuses, then larger buses and lorries.
The rules mean drivers will need to give extra room and priority to pedestrians and cyclists while driving “to ensure a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users”, the Department for Transport said.
“Everyone suffers when road collisions occur, whether they are physically injured or not. But those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.”
One new rule will provide more boundaries for cyclists, where drivers are to maintain a 1.5m distance when overtaking bikes and motorbikes at 30mph.
New rules for cyclists
One of the rules introduced advises cyclists to give way to pedestrians on shared-use cycle tracks to horse riders on bridleways, and to slow down when necessary and let them know you are there, for example, by ringing the bell fitted to your bike or by calling out.
Who gets priority at junctions?
At junctions, the priority will be pedestrians. The code says: “At a junction, you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.
“You must give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing and pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing.”
What is the new way to open your car door?
One of the law changes includes the introduction of the “Dutch Reach”, which is being added to protect cyclists and pedestrians.
The Dutch Reach practice is when the driver’s far hand opens their car door, so the body turns towards the direction of approaching traffic to check if it is clear.