Changes to the Highway Code

New changes to the Highway Code have come into effect in Scotland. Make sure you’re up to date with the new rules and guidance. 


The recent changes to the Highway Code make roads safer for us all, especially for people walking and cycling. Here is a quick round-up of what you need to know.


Hierarchy of road users

One of the key changes is a new hierarchy of road users. This recognises how vulnerable road users are and how much responsibility they have for others. People who are walking are the most vulnerable and so are at the top of the hierarchy. As the road users who can do the greatest harm, drivers are the least vulnerable and therefore have the greatest responsibility. 


Safer junctions

The new Highway Code also improves safety at junctions. People crossing the road at junctions without traffic signals have priority over drivers and cyclists. This also means that drivers wishing to turn at junctions should now give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross. Similarly, drivers wishing to turn at junctions should not cut across cyclists or horse riders who are travelling straight ahead. 


Watch this video from Cycling UK to see examples of the new rules in practice: 


‘Dutch Reach’ method

When opening the door of their vehicle, drivers are now advised to do so using the arm closest to the centre of the vehicle when seated. This causes the person to look over their shoulder, checking for nearby road users and reducing the risk of injury to others such as through ‘car-dooring’.  


Minimum passing distances

Drivers should now leave a distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking people who are cycling or horse riding. When overtaking pedestrians walking on roads without pavements, at least 2 metres distance is required. This new regulation is to tackle dangerous overtaking and ‘close passes’. 


Find out more about the myths and facts of the new Highway Code changes in this summary from Sustrans.