Changes to Highway Code that will help make high-speed roads safer go live

New rules to make England’s motorways and high-speed roads even safer have come into effect today in a major update to The Highway Code.

The update includes clearer advice on where to stop in an emergency, the importance of not driving in a lane closed by a Red X and how variable speed limits are used to keep traffic flowing. There is also updated guidance on key factors that contribute to safety-related incidents, including driving while tired, unroadworthy vehicles, safe towing, tailgating and driving in roadworks.

The changes can be read online now, after more than 3,200 people and organisations took part in a consultation to help National Highways and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to decide on the details.

National Highways chief executive Nick Harris said: “Although our motorways and major A-roads are already among the very safest in the world, this new guidance will help road users be even safer.

“It includes clear, practical information such as how variable speed limits work and advice about where to stop in an emergency. This will help drivers use our roads safely and feel safe doing so, and I urge all drivers to read it.”

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “As we build back better and modernise roads across the country, the safety of road users continues to be our utmost priority. That’s why these changes have been brought in as part of our 18-point Action Plan to further improve safety on our motorways and high-speed roads.

“It is vital that all drivers keep up to date with The Highway Code. This updated guidance will give everyone on our roads the confidence that they have the knowledge and skills to make journeys safely.”

DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder said: “The Highway Code is essential reading for all road users, whether you’re a driver, rider, pedestrian, cyclist or horse rider. It is designed to inform everyone and keep them safe when using Britain’s roads.

“As illustrated by the changes made today, everyone needs to make sure they stay up to date. As further changes to The Highway Code are proposed in the coming months, we are advising everyone to check digital versions of the Code. With online access and a handy app, it’s easier than ever to keep up with the rules of the road. 

“Making sure everyone keeps their knowledge up to date helps Great Britain’s roads stay among the safest in the world.”

AA president Edmund King OBE said: “We are pleased to support these much-needed updates to The Highway Code. This new advice will help new and seasoned drivers alike. It covers many of the safety issues we have campaigned on, such as the dangers of driving tired, the importance of observing the Red X and the menace of tailgating.   

“Most importantly it gives great guidance on how to keep drivers and others safe on our roads.”

IAM RoadSmart CEO Tony Greenidge said: “Motorways and high-speed roads are changing and to support the successful implementation of these, IAM RoadSmart welcomes this Highway Code update. Clear advice on what to do if you break down on a smart motorway, and the vital importance of strict compliance with Red X signs are particularly important. In addition we would recommend that every driver refresh their knowledge by reading the new document. From daily commuters to occasional users, The Highway Code update will help protect drivers and their passengers, as well as keep England’s vital road network flowing.”

GEM Motoring Assist CEO Neil Worth said: “GEM welcomes any initiatives designed to improve safety on road journeys, and we know that National Highways has invested significantly to provide new information that’s as clear and as useful as possible. Equally important is ensuring we as road users make good use of that information, so I encourage every driver to brush up their understanding of driving on a motorway – in particular what to do in an emergency and how to carry out basic vehicle safety checks to minimise the risk of a breakdown.

In total, 33 existing rules in The Highway Code have been amended and two new rules introduced. Amendments have also been made to the additional information within The Highway Code and its annexes.

Updating The Highway Code is one of the measures set out in the Transport Secretary’s 18-point Action Plan to improve safety and public confidence on All Lane Running motorways.


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