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The Highway Code

Department for Transport
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Annex 4. The road user and the law

An annex of The Highway Code with information about the road user and the law.

Road traffic law

The following list can be found abbreviated throughout the Code. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide, but a guide to some of the important points of law. For the precise wording of the law, please refer to the various Acts and Regulations (as amended) indicated in the Code. Abbreviations are listed below.

Most of the provisions apply on all roads throughout Great Britain, although there are some exceptions. The definition of a road in England and Wales is ‘any highway and any other road to which the public has access and includes bridges over which a road passes’ (RTA 1988 sect 192(1)). In Scotland, there is a similar definition which is extended to include any way over which the public have a right of passage (R(S)A 1984 sect 151(1)).

It is important to note that references to ‘road’ therefore generally include footpaths, bridleways and cycle tracks, and many roadways and driveways on private land (including many car parks). In most cases, the law will apply to them and there may be additional rules for particular paths or ways. Some serious driving offences, including drink-driving offences, also apply to all public places, for example public car parks.

Acts and regulations are available as enacted or as amended at and are available in their original print format from The Stationery Office.

Acts and regulations prior to 1988

Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons Act 1970 CSDPA
Functions of Traffic Wardens Order 1970 FTWO
Greater London (General Powers) Act 1974 GL(GP)A
Highway Act 1835 or 1980 (as indicated) HA
Motorways Traffic (England & Wales) Regulations 1982 MT(E&W)R
Motorways Traffic (England & Wales) Amended Regulations MT(E&W)AR
Pedal Cycles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1983 PCUR
Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 PPVA
Road Traffic Act 1984 RTA
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 RTRA
Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 CUR
Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 R(S)A

Acts and regulations from 1988 onwards

Environmental Protection Act 1990 EPA
Horses (Protective Headgear for Young Riders) Act 1990 H(PHYR)A
Horses (Protective Headgear for Young Riders) Regulations 1992 H(PHYR)R
Motor Cycles (Eye Protectors) Regulations 1999 MC(EP)R
Motor Cycles (Protective Helmets) Regulations 1998 MC(PH)R
Motorways Traffic (Scotland) Regulations 1995 MT(S)R
Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999 MV(DL)R
Motor Vehicles (Variation of Speed Limits) (England & Wales) Regulations 2014 MV(VSL)(E&W)
Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993 MV(WSB)R
Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 MV(WSB)(A)R
Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts by Children in Front Seats) Regulations 1993 MV(WSBCFS)R
New Roads and Streetworks Act 1991 NRSWA
Pedal Cycles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1983 PCUR
Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 PCC(S)A
Police Reform Act 2002 PRA
Prohibition of Smoking in Certain Premises (Scotland) Regulations 2006. Scottish SI 2006/No 90 TPSCP(S)R*
Road Safety Act 2006 RSA
Road Traffic Act 1984, 1988 or 1991 as indicated RTA
Road Traffic Act 1988 (Prescribed Limit)(Scotland) Regulations 2014 PLSR
Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995 RT(ND)A
Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 RTOA
Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 RV(DRM)R
Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 RVLR
Road Vehicles (Registration & Licensing) Regulations 2002 RV(R&L)R
Smoke-free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/765 TSf(EV)*
Smoke-free Premises etc (Wales) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/W787 TSfP(W)R*
Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015 S-f(PV)R
Smoke-free Premises etc. (Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 S-f(W)R
Traffic Management Act 2004 TMA
Traffic Signs Regulations & General Directions 2002 TSRGD
Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations 1988 UICHR
Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 VERA
Zebra, Pelican and Puffin Pedestrian Crossings Regulations and General Directions 1997 ZPPPCRGD

*Specific legislation applies to smoking in vehicles which constitute workplaces.

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