The Highway Code

Updates: The Highway Code

2021

14 September 2021 published amendments

Rules for drivers and motorcyclists (89 to 102)

Updated Rule 91 to ensure readers understand:

• drivers need to get sufficient sleep before a long journey
• emergency areas and hard shoulders on motorways are not to be used for rest breaks in the event of driver sleepiness
• information exists in Rule 262 on appropriate places to take a break when travelling on motorways

Updated Rule 97 to ensure readers understand:

• drivers MUST have a valid licence and insurance
• vehicles MUST be in a legal and roadworthy condition
• basic vehicle maintenance and safety checks should be carried out before drivers set off
• sufficient vehicle fuel or charge is required for each planned journey
• for emergency use, drivers are recommended to take a charged mobile telephone, containing emergency numbers, and high-visibility clothing

Updated Rule 98 to ensure readers understand:

• reduced speed limits may apply when towing
• it may take longer to build up speed when towing
• trailers must be in a roadworthy condition, including tyres, lights and brakes
• drivers may need to use towing mirrors when towing
• vehicles which are towing should not be using the outside lanes on motorways
• trailers are required by law to be fitted with a secondary coupling device
• further information is available about safe towing practices


General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders (103 to 158)

Updated Rule 124 to add images and ensure readers understand:

• speed limits for motorhomes and motor caravans
• speed limits for buses or coaches over 12 metres long
• speed limits for special types of vehicles that are overweight or oversized
• speed limits can be changed by signs
• speed limits are enforced by the police

Updated Rule 126 to ensure readers understand:

• what tailgating is, how it occurs, why it is dangerous and how to avoid it
• dangerous and careless driving offences, such as tailgating, are enforced by the police
• safe distances between vehicles on icy roads are ten times greater

Updated Rule 138 to ensure readers understand:

• the rule for overtaking also applies to dual carriageways with more than three lanes


Driving in adverse weather conditions (226 to 237)

Updated Rule 234 to improve wording and layout.


Waiting and parking (238 to 252)

Updated Rule 240 to ensure readers understand:

• emergency areas on motorways are not to be used for stopping or parking, except in an emergency


Motorways (253 to 274)

Updated Rule 253 to ensure readers understand:

• provisional car licence holders can only drive on the motorway when they are accompanied by an approved driving instructor and are driving a car displaying red L plates (or D plates in Wales)

Updated Rule 255 to improve wording and layout.

Updated Rule 256 to add images and ensure readers understand:

• motorway signs and signals can apply to all lanes or individual lanes
• how to recognise motorway signs and signals

Updated Rule 257 to add an image and ensure readers understand:

• how drivers should adjust their driving behaviour on approaching amber flashing lights
• how to recognise a sign displaying amber flashing lights

Updated Rule 258 to add images and ensure readers understand:

• the display of red flashing light signals and a red ‘X’ on a sign identify a closed lane in which people, stopped vehicles and other hazards may be present
• drivers should follow the instructions on signs in advance of a closed lane to move safely to an open lane
• there can be several hazards in a closed lane
• blocking closed lanes may prevent people from getting the help they need and delay reopening of the lanes
• where a closed left lane crosses an exit slip road, the exit cannot be used
• the road is closed when red flashing light signals and closures of all lanes are shown on a sign
• how to recognise signs displaying red flashing light signals and lane or road closures
• lane and road closures indicated by red flashing lights are enforced by the police

Updated Rule 261 to ensure readers understand:

• drivers must not exceed the speed limit displayed on a sign
• drivers must not exceed the maximum speed limit of their vehicle and the road type
• speed limits are enforced by the police

Updated Rule 262 to ensure readers understand:

• information is available in rule 91 about ensuring fitness to drive and taking breaks
• service areas and other rest and refreshment facilities are available when travelling along motorways

Updated Rule 263 to ensure readers understand:
• it is illegal to reverse along any part of a motorway, including slip roads, hard shoulders and emergency areas

Updated Rule 264 to ensure readers understand:

• drivers should move over, if safe to do so, when approaching people and vehicles stopped on the hard shoulder or in an emergency area to create more space for the people and stopped vehicles

Updated Rule 266 to ensure readers understand:

• road markings may also be used to indicate directions on the approach to some junctions

Updated Rule 269 to add images and ensure readers understand:

• the hard shoulder is for emergency use only
• on some motorways, the hard shoulder becomes an extra lane during periods of congestion; signs identify when the extra lane can be used
• on motorways where the hard shoulder becomes an extra lane during periods of congestion, emergency areas exist for use in the event of an emergency or breakdown
• the hard shoulder can only be used as an extra lane when a speed limit is shown

New Rule 270 to add images and ensure readers understand:

• emergency areas are located along motorways without hard shoulders or where the hard shoulder is used some of the time as an extra lane
• how to recognise an emergency area
• emergency areas are for emergency use only

Updated Rule 271 to ensure readers understand:
• drivers must not stop in an emergency area on a motorway, except in an emergency


Breakdowns and incidents (275 to 287)

New Rule 275 to ensure readers understand:

• a place of relative safety is where the people and vehicles involved in a breakdown or other incident are less likely to be at risk from moving traffic
• the safest place to stop in the event of a breakdown or incident is a location which is designed for parking
• on motorways and other high-speed roads, the safest place to stop is a service area
• other places of relative safety on motorways and other high-speed roads include lay-bys, emergency areas and hard shoulders
• hard shoulders provide less protection than other places of relative safety

Updated Rule 277 to add images and ensure readers understand:

• the steps to follow if their vehicle develops a problem (get left, get safe and get help)
• the importance of staying away from their vehicle and remaining aware of other traffic
• what to do if they break down in a live traffic lane
• how to identify and communicate their location to emergency services

Updated Rule 278 to add image and ensure readers understand:

• how to rejoin the motorway from an emergency area
• the importance of using the SOS phone in emergency areas
• obstructions and debris may be present on the hard shoulder

Updated Rule 279 to ensure readers understand:

• the importance of switching on hazard warning lights to warn other motorists of a stopped vehicle
• the need to keep seatbelts on when staying in a broken-down vehicle
• as an alternative to calling 999, there is the availability of an SOS button in some vehicles for contacting the emergency services
• how drivers who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired can communicate with the emergency service using the emergency SMS service

Updated Rule 280 to ensure readers understand:

• on motorways, drivers and passengers must not retrieve items that fall from a vehicle or attempt to move an obstruction
• in the event of a fallen item or other obstruction on a motorway, drivers should stop in a place of relative safety and contact the emergency services to report the incident and request help

Updated Rule 281 to ensure readers understand:

• warning signs or flashing lights indicate that people, including the emergency services, traffic officers, and recovery workers, may be working in the road

Updated Rule 282 to ensure readers understand:

• drivers should remain alert for hazards and not slow down unnecessarily when passing an incident

Updated Rule 283 to ensure readers understand:

• if drivers stop to give assistance, they should stop in a place of relative safety and not put themselves or their passengers in danger
• how the emergency services can be contacted using an emergency telephone, a mobile telephone, or, if a vehicle has one, its SOS button
• further information is available about giving first aid
• there may be a need to exchange details in accordance with rule 286

Updated Rule 286 to ensure readers understand:

• drivers should stop in a place of relative safety if they are involved in a collision


Road works, level crossings and tramways (288 to 307)

Updated Rule 288 to ensure readers understand:

• vehicles displaying amber flashing lights are likely to slow down and turn into a works area
• drivers should leave extra space between themselves and a vehicle that is displaying amber flashing lights

Updated Rule 289 to ensure readers understand:

• where large ‘Keep Left’ or ’Keep Right’ signs are displayed on a works vehicle, drivers must move over to the next lane and pass the works vehicle on the side indicated and must not return to the closed lane until it is safe to do so
• works vehicles displaying the sign, ‘convoy vehicle no overtaking’, must not be overtaken

Updated Rule 290 to ensure readers understand:

• lanes in road works may be narrower than normal and will be marked by studs or temporary road markings
• in narrow lanes, drivers need to keep a good distance from the vehicle in front to be able to clearly see the edges of the lane ahead
• at the start and finish of contraflow systems in road works, there may be areas of adverse camber; drivers need to slow down and leave extra space when these areas are signed
• areas marked off by cones contain significant hazards


Light signals controlling traffic

Updates to ensure readers understand:

• what a motorway sign that displays multiple pieces of information looks like


Signals to other road users

Updates to add an image and ensure readers understand:

• what hazard light signals are and when they should be used


Traffic signs

Updates to add an image and ensure readers understand:

• what a variable speed limit information sign looks like


Annex 4. The road user and the law

Updates to ensure readers understand:

• “emergency areas” (as used in the proposed amendments to The Highway Code) are defined in law as “emergency refuge areas”


Other information

Additional website links to ensure that readers understand where to find information about:

• the Strategic Road Network and its operators in England, Scotland and Wales
• the current status of traffic conditions on Highways England’s network (supplementing existing website listings for Transport Wales and Transport Scotland)

Additional references to ensure that readers understand where to find information about:

• safe towing practices
• special types vehicles


23 March 2021 published amendments

Annex 6. Vehicle maintenance, safety and security

Updated the vehicle maintenance section to add information about the ages of tyres allowed to be used on goods vehicles with a maximum gross weight of more than 3.5 tonnes and passenger vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats.


2019

20 August 2019 published amendments

Annex 7. First aid on the road

Changed the information on cooling burns for at least 10 minutes to say they should be cooled for at least 20 minutes, following advice from the British Burn Association.


25 July 2019 published amendments

Motorways (253 to 273)

Updated rule 258 to clarify that if red lights flash on a signal and a red “X” is showing, you must not drive in the lane shown as closed beyond the signal. This applies until you pass another signal indicating that the lane is no longer closed. Added wording to say that if red lights flash on a signal in the central reservation or on the side of the road and lane closed sign is showing, you must not go beyond the signal in any lane


21 March 2019 published amendments

Using the road (159 to 203)

Updated rule 160 to make it clear that you should ride with both hands on the handlebars where possible.


2018

30 November 2018 published amendments

General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders (103 to 158)

Added information about using remote control parking and driver assistance systems to rule 150.


Using the road (159 to 203)

Updated rule 160 with information about using driver assistance systems while driving, and updated the illustration for rule 174 about box junctions.


Waiting and parking (238 to 252)

Updated rule 239 with information about using a hand-held device to help you to park.


27 June 2018 published amendments

General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders (103 to 158)

The changes made to rules 149 and 150 on 3 June 2018 about using remote control parking and driver assistance systems have not completed the statutory process to allow them to be included in The Highway Code. The changes have been removed.


Using the road (159 to 203)

The change made to rule 160 on 3 June 2018 about using driver assistance systems has not completed the statutory process to allow it to be included in The Highway Code. The change has been removed.


Waiting and parking (238 to 252)

The change made to rule 239 on 3 June 2018 about using remote control parking has not completed the statutory process to allow it to be included in The Highway Code. The change has been removed.


3 June 2018 published amendments

General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders (103 to 158)

Updated the wording of rule 107, and added information about using remote control parking and driver assistance systems to rule 150.


Using the road (159 to 203)

Updated rule 160 with information about using driver assistance systems while driving.


Waiting and parking (238 to 252)

Updated rule 239 with information about using a hand-held device to help you to park.


Motorways (253 to 273)

Updated rule 253 with information about provisional licence holders driving on the motorway if accompanied by an approved driving instructor in a car with dual controls.


19 May 2018 published amendments

Annex 3. Motor vehicle documentation and learner driver requirements

Updated the rule about vehicles that need an MOT, as cars, vans, motorcycles and other light passenger vehicles manufactured or first registered over 40 years ago, are exempt from the MOT test from 20 May 2018 - unless the vehicle has been substantially changed within the previous 30 years.


26 April 2018 published amendments

General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders (103 to 158)

Update rule 108 to make it clear that traffic officers have powers to stop vehicles on most motorways and some ‘A’ class roads in both England and Wales - not just England.


2017

28 July 2017 published amendments

Annex 7. First aid on the road

Updated the guidance on providing emergency care with the help of St John Ambulance, the British Heart Foundation and the British Red Cross.


1 March 2017 published amendments

Annex 5. Penalties

Updated the penalty table to increase penalty points for using a hand-held mobile phone when driving from 3 to 6.


2016

5 December 2016 published amendments

General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders (103 to 158)

Rule 148 updated to include the information on it being offence in Scotland for anyone aged 18 or over to smoke in a private motor vehicle (unless it is parked and being used as living accommodation) when there is someone under 18 in the vehicle and the vehicle is in a public place. Also a link to the legislation has been added.


26 October 2016 published amendments

Annex 8. Safety code for new drivers

Updated the Pass Plus email address to passplus@dvsa.gov.uk


27 September 2016 published amendments

Index

New section added.


3 February 2016 published amendments

Road users requiring extra care (204 to 225)

Updated Rule 209 to add an image of the school bus road sign.


2015

1 October 2015 published amendments

Rules for cyclists (59 to 82)

New section added.


General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders (103 to 158)

New section added.

1 October 2015: Updated rule 148 to include that you MUST NOT smoke in a private vehicle carrying under 18s.

6 April 2015: Updated the national speed limit for goods vehicles (of more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) in England and Wales on single carriageways from 40 miles per hour (mph) to 50mph, and on dual carriageways from 50mph to 60mph.

2 September 2014: Updated rule 147 about throwing things out of a vehicle from 'should not' to 'MUST NOT'.

2 April 2014: Changed 'Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA)' to 'Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)' in rule 107.


Using the road (159 to 203)

New section added.


Annex 8. Safety code for new drivers

New section added.


Introduction

New section added.

On GOV.UK, The Highway Code now includes a list of updates. All updates made after 1 October 2015 will show on this list as and when they’re made. These are the updates that were made between 1 January 2014 and 1 October 2015.


Road users requiring extra care (204 to 225)

New section added.


Motorways (253 to 273)

New section added.


Annex 2. Motorcycle licence requirements

New section added.


Waiting and parking (238 to 252)

New section added.


Vehicle markings

New section added.


Breakdowns and incidents (274 to 287)

New section added.


Traffic signs

New section added.


Other information

New section added.


Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (36 to 46)

New section added.


Road markings

New section added.


Driving in adverse weather conditions (226 to 237)

New section added.


Annex 4. The road user and the law

New section added.


Signals to other road users

New section added.


Rules for pedestrians (1 to 35)

New section added.


Light signals controlling traffic

New section added.


Rules about animals (47 to 58)

New section added.


Rules for motorcyclists (83 to 88)

New section added.


Rules for drivers and motorcyclists (89 to 102)

New section added.

2 March 2015 : Updated rule 96 to reflect the change in law that you MUST NOT drive if you have illegal drugs or certain medicines in your blood above specified limits.

5 December 2014: Updated rule 95 to reflect the change in law for lower drink drive limits in Scotland.


Signals by authorised persons

New section added.


Annex 3. Motor vehicle documentation and learner driver requirements

New section added.

8 June 2015: Removed references to needing a paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence.

1 October 2014: Removed references of needing to display a tax disc in vehicles following their abolition.


Annex 1. You and your bicycle

New section added.


Annex 6. Vehicle maintenance, safety and security

New section added.


Road works, level crossings and tramways (288 to 307)

New section added.


Annex 7. First aid on the road

New section added.


Annex 5. Penalties

New section added.

5 June 2015: Updated the penalty table to remove the £5,000 limit on fines for the most serious offences.