33% of drivers are unaware of updates to the Highway Code that are coming into effect this week, despite the new rules creating a “hierarchy of road users” and giving cyclists priority over drivers.

The updated rules are being introduced from 29th January, pending Parliamentary approval. The changes will mean drivers will be more responsible for looking out for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.

In turn, cyclists will have to take more responsibility of walkers too.

Under the new Highway Code, drivers will have to give cyclists at least 1.5 metres of room when overtaking.

A red car towing a caravan in Devon
The new changes will create a hierarchy of road users.

The updated Highway Code will also instruct cyclists to cycle in the centre of a lane when in slower moving traffic or on quiet streets and roads. In these instances, the rules will tell them to only move to the left “if a faster vehicle comes up behind them”, so long as it is safe to do so. They are also being told to move to the centre “at the approach to junctions or where the roads narrows, where it would be unsafe for drivers to overtake them”.

Part of the updated Highway Code will also recommend the Dutch Reach technique is adopted by anyone opening a car door. This is where the hand furthest away from the door is used to open it, which typically makes people look over their shoulder. In turn, this should reduce the chances of opening a door in front of a cyclist.

Despite the rules coming in so imminently, there is a widespread lack of knowledge about the changes. A poll of over 13,700 drivers was conducted by the AA between 8th-18th January and found 33% of motorists were unaware, with four per cent saying they had “no intention” of looking into it.

AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens said: “While the government formally announced these changes last summer, they have been far too silent in promoting them.”

“Shockingly, one in 25 drivers say they have no intention of looking at the new rules.”

“These changes affect everyone, so we encourage people to read the updated code now so we can make our roads safer.”

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