UK Highway Code Rules

UK Highway Code Rules

The Highway Code applies to all road users in the United Kingdom. Published by the Her Majesty's Stationary Office, guidance provided in The Highway Code applies to pedestrians, drivers and riders. Knowing the rules outlined in The Highway Code helps road users act responsibly and respectfully. It also helps reduce collisions and causalities on roads and motorways and is essential reading for any new or learner driver.

About The Highway Code

The Highway Code is an official guide book published by the UK government with rules and guidelines that help promote road safety. There is one version of the code that applies to road users in Great Britain, which includes England Scotland and Wales. A second version of The Highway Code is also published that applies to only Northern Ireland. The Highway Code was first published in 1931. It is often used by learner drivers and riders to gain knowledge about driving and riding in advance of completing tests to obtain a licence. The Highway Code is available in a range of formats, including as a book and e-book. It is also available on the GOV.UK website, as an app for Apple devices, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

The Highway Code and the Law

Many rules in The Highway Code are legal requirements and it is a criminal offence when they are disobeyed. Punishments may include fines, penalty points on a driver or rider's licence, or disqualification from driving. In serious cases, infractions may result in prison terms. Rules in The Highway Code that are legal requirements are generally identified with the 'must' or 'must not'. References are included to applicable legislation that formally makes the action or inaction an offence. Failure in complying with The Highway Code is not in itself is not cause to be prosecuted, although the code is used in evidence in cases that are being prosecuted under the Traffic Acts. This applies to rules in The Highway Code where wording includes 'do' and 'do not', as well as 'should' or 'should not'.

The Highway Code Rules

Published in 2010, the latest version of The Highway Code includes 307 numbered rules. The book also contains nine annexes for specific road users, including drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians and animals. Annexes also include information on licence requirements, vehicle security and maintenance, documentation and penalties. The Highway Code also contains information on road signs, such as direction signs on roads and motorways, traffic signs, warning signs and information signs. Rules are also included with respect to road markings, vehicle markings and general road safety.

In addition to general advice on road safety, The Highway Code includes a range of information and rules about using the road. For example, rules related to driving along in a roundabout and on motorways are provided. Rules include how to enter and exit a motorway, overtaking vehicles on a motorway, and how to drive appropriately in adverse weather conditions. Rules are also included with respect to waiting and parking a vehicle, as well as how to behave at pedestrian crossings and where road works are being undertaken. Guidance is also provided to assist drivers with delivering first aid on the road, as well as how to address common incidents and breakdowns while driving.

Rules in The Highway Code also provide guidance on how to properly operate a vehicle. For example, rules on signalling are provided to ensure road uses indicate when turning, reversing, parking and overtaking. Rules are also included with respect to braking and safe stopping distances. Guidance on lighting requirements, including how to use headlights at night and in adverse weather conditions, is also included. The Highway Code also features rules with respect to properly controlling a vehicle, including maintaining appropriate speed within legal limits.