They say every day is a learning day, and the beginning of the year seen some 50 changes to the Highway Code, meaning we all have to learn or re-learn some new rules and laws.
I'll just pick on 4 changes and how they affect you on the road.
1. The Dutch reach
This is guidance rather than law, but with more and more cyclists on the road, a slightly different way of opening the door could save people getting seriously insured, and savings on your insurance costs going up.
What is the Dutch reach?
Step 1: Reach
Reach across to your car door handle with the hand that is furthest away from the door.
Step 2: Swivel
Reaching across with your arm will force you to swivel your body so you can look into your
rear view mirror and out the side of your window.
Step 3: Look back
Look over your shoulder to see if there is any oncoming traffic.
Step 4: Open slowly
Once you’ve checked the road is clear, slowly open your car door and step out facing the traffic.
2. Ban on use of mobile phones
It was already illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving. But with the new changes, drivers will now also be banned from taking pictures and videos, scrolling through playlists or playing games.
Can I still use a phone hands free?
Yes, you can if you’re using…
● A Bluetooth headset
● Voice command
● A dashboard holder or mat
● A windscreen mount
● A built-in sat nav
Can I use my phone if the car has stopped?
No, not if you’re…
● Stopped at traffic lights
● Queuing in traffic
● Supervising a learner driver
That said, there have been questions around paying for food at a drive-thru. In this instance, if the car is at a window and is ‘stationary’ you are allowed to use your phone to pay for those chips!
When can I use a hand held phone?
You can use a hand-held phone if…
● you’re safely parked
● you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
What fine would I get if caught using a phone while driving?
You could land yourself with 6 penalty points and a £200 fine if you use a hand-held phone
when driving. Don’t forget you can also get points on a provisional licence when learning to drive! This will also affect your insurance costs for up to 5 years. These came into effect on 25th March 2022
3. Priority at junctions
Up until now if say a car was turning left (unless there was a zebra crossing or set of trafficclights giving priority to the pedestrian) the car was free to make the turn, but now this has changed to give priority to the more vulnerable. The rule 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.”
According to the highway code this should make things clear for…
● When people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should give way
● If people have started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, the people crossing have priority and the traffic should give way
● People driving, riding a motorcycle or cycling must give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing. A parallel crossing is similar to a zebra crossing, but includes a cycle route alongside the black and white stripes.
4. Hierarchy of road users
The introduction section of The Highway Code has been updated to include 3 new rules
about the new ‘hierarchy of road users’.
It’s important that all road users:
● Are aware of The Highway Code
● Are considerate to other road users
● Understand their responsibility for the safety of others
Stephen Blake 20406
Latchford Beat Team