What changes to the Highway Code mean for HGV drivers

New HGV driving rules in the Highway Code came into force on 19th January 2022. These rules impact how HGV drivers should behave on the roads and may mean significant changes to the way in which they are penalised in the event of an accident.

As drivers of some of the largest vehicles on the roads, those in charge of an HGV must be completely familiar with just what the new requirements mean for them and other road users.

At the top of the hierarchy

The new ‘hierarchy of road users’ is designed to reflect the vulnerability of those using different types of vehicles and the resultant responsibility placed on those who are deemed to pose the greatest potential harm to others.

That means drivers of HGVs are designated to be those with the greatest responsibility to take more notice of other road users and are expected to take the most care to prevent danger to others. It is also likely to mean a more marked difference in how HGV drivers are dealt with by the courts compared with other road users in how their actions are assessed as those in charge of the heavier, more dangerous vehicles.

Knowing the changes that affect how other road users will behave

Other rule changes will also have an impact on how HGV drivers behave in relation to other road users. HGV drivers are now permitted to cross a double white line to pass a cyclist or horse rider. This is providing the vehicle is travelling at 10 mph or less and the road be clear in order that the overtaking manoeuvre can be performed safely.

All motor vehicles, including HGVs, must now also give priority to cyclists on roundabouts and give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which the driver is turning.

Of particular note for drivers of HGVs are changes to how cyclists are permitted to act. Now, in slow moving traffic those riding a bike are allowed to ride in the centre of their lane when the road is quiet. Naturally, this will mean HGV drivers may have to wait longer to overtake a cyclist but the rider is expected to be aware of vehicles behind them and allow them to pass when it is safe to do so.

These changes reiterate that the Highway Code is an evolving document that all drivers must be aware of. HGV drivers should refer to the highway code regularly, their training reflect this and operators of lorry fleets must incorporate the rules into their instruction and competency checks as well as policies and procedures.