For many drivers, after passing their driving test they may never open up the pages of the Highway Code again. That is, unless to resolve a dinner table argument over who’s the more knowledgeable driver!
If that sounds like you, then before setting off on a motorhome trip next year be sure to have a read. This autumn, the Highway Code is receiving a substantial update you really need to be aware of if you want to stay on the right side of motoring laws.
In view of the fact the Highway Code already has over 300 rules, we thought we should highlight some of the bigger changes for you. So, let’s take a closer look at the various and sometimes subtle changes in wording. We have abbreviated some rules so read the full list here.
While you’re checking your knowledge of the Highway Code, be sure to investigate whether your insurance cover is still up to scratch. Give the helpful team at Motorhome Protect a call today and check you’ve still got the most appropriate motorhome insurance for your needs and budget.
Why have the changes been introduced?
One of the most headline-grabbing changes is the introduction of a so-called ‘hierarchy of road users.’ This has been introduced as a way of promoting and protecting pedestrian and cyclist use of the roads. The aim is to ensure the road users who can cause the most serious harm in a collision, such as those driving large vehicles, will have greater responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others.
For example, a HGV driver will have a greater responsibility than a motorcyclist. While a cyclist would have a greater responsibility than someone out walking or jogging.
The proposed hierarchy will be:
- Horse riders
- Cars and taxis
- Vans and minibuses
- Large passenger and heavy goods vehicles
The changes make clear that drivers turning into or out of a junction should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross. Likewise, guidance is given on safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking cyclists and horse riders. And giving them priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.
In the wake of concerns that 38 people have been killed on smart motorways in the last five years, there’s also improved guidance on motorway driving and what to do if you’re involved in a breakdown or accident.
Before setting off on a long journey the driver needs to have had sufficient sleep – sufficient being the key word here. And if you do feel sleepy while driving you must stop in a safe place to rest. It may sound obvious but emergency areas, or the hard shoulder of a motorway are not safe places to stop just because you’re feeling tired.
How to combat tiredness when driving your motorhome is an important question. Particularly if you’ve caught the touring bug and hope to explore across the UK and beyond into Europe. Road safety charity Brake has found that worldwide, fatigue contributes to 10-20% of road crashes. While in Britain, 4% of fatal crashes are caused by tiredness.
Motorhome drivers will already be doing this but before setting off you must ensure you have the appropriate licence and insurance to drive your vehicle. You should also plan your route beforehand and allow sufficient time for breaks and delays. You also need to check you’ve got sufficient fuel or charge for your journey, especially if you’ll be travelling on motorways.
Like some of our European neighbours it’s now recommended that just in case of emergencies, you have a phone containing emergency contacts, and high-vis clothing. Having the number of breakdown assistance on your phone is always going to be useful. If you’re looking to add breakdown cover to your motorhome insurance, then call our team today.
If you tow a trailer as part of your motorhome set-up then you MUST now check that both your vehicle and the trailer are in roadworthy condition. This includes checking all tyres, the trailer braking system, and all trailer lights are working. The trailer also must be fitted with a secondary coupling device, such as a safety chain.
You MUST NOT exceed the speed limit for your road or the vehicle you’re driving. A limit of 30mph generally applies to all roads with streetlights (excluding motorways).
Any experienced driver knows you need at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front. Particularly when travelling at higher speeds or in tunnels with reduced visibility. This gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and up to 10 times greater on icy roads.
This rule now includes a definition of tailgating. This is where the gap you’ve left is too small for you to be able to stop safely if the vehicle in front suddenly brakes. It says that tailgating is dangerous, intimidating and can cause collisions. And that such dangerous and careless driving offences are enforced by the police. You’ve been warned!
One for those who hate middle-lane hoggers. On a dual carriageway with three or more lanes, drivers can use the middle or right-hand lanes to overtake. But they should return to the middle lanes and then the left-hand lane when it’s safe to do so. It remains to be seen if this will have the required effect on that annoying driving behaviour.
Before entering a patch of fog, always check your mirrors before slowing down. This is a useful reminder, particularly if you’re not used to driving a larger vehicle like a motorhome.
You now MUST NOT stop or park on the carriageway, an emergency area, or a hard shoulder of a motorway. Unless it’s an emergency. The restriction on parking in an emergency area is to reflect their presence on smart motorways. If you’re parked in one and there’s an emergency, then you could be the cause of a serious road accident.
Provisional car licence holders now MUST NOT drive on the motorway if accompanied by a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) and are driving a car displaying red L plates (or D plates in Wales) with dual controls.
Motorway MUST NOT be used by the following:
- People who only hold a provisional motorcycle licence
- Riders of motorcycles under 50 cc
- Horse riders
- Certain slow-moving vehicles and those carrying oversized loads (except by special permission)
- Agricultural vehicles
- Powered wheelchairs/powered mobility scooters.
Amber flashing lights are warning drivers of a hazard ahead. So, you should reduce your speed and be prepared for the hazard. You should only increase speed when you pass a signal that’s not flashing, or a sign displaying a national speed limit or the word ‘END’, and you are sure it is safe to do so.
In the case of red flashing light signals and a red ‘X’ on a sign. This warns you of a closed lane in which people, stopped vehicles or other hazards are present. You MUST follow the instructions on signs and move safely to an open lane. You must not drive in a closed lane.
The rule warns you that there could be several hazards in a closed lane, and that emergency services could be using them to get to people in need. By blocking them you are putting others in danger.
If the left lane is closed at an exit slip road, the exit cannot be used. The police will enforce any lane closures indicated by red flashing lights.
You MUST NOT go over a speed limit that’s displayed within a red circle on a sign.
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Unless told to do so by a police or traffic officer, you MUST NOT reverse along any part of a motorway, including slip roads, hard shoulders, and emergency areas. It does sound obvious, but it’s well worth repeating.
Keep in the left lane unless overtaking. And if you are overtaking, then you should return to the left lane when safe to do so. Also be aware that emergency services, traffic officers, recovery workers and other people or vehicles might be stopped on the hard shoulder or in an emergency area. If you’re driving in the left lane, and it’s safe to do so, you should move into the adjacent lane to create more space between your vehicle and the people and stopped vehicles.
When approaching a junction look out for road markings and signs as well as signals.
Where a hard shoulder is present, you MUST NOT use it except in an emergency or if told to do so by the police, traffic officers or a traffic sign.
If the hard shoulder is being used as an extra lane during periods of congestion, then there will be signs to identify it as such. You can only use the hard shoulder as an extra lane when a speed limit is shown above it. On smart motorways where the hard shoulder can be used as an extra lane, emergency areas are provided.
A red ‘X’ or blank sign above the hard shoulder means you must not use it unless it’s an emergency.
Emergency areas located alongside motorways MUST only be used in an emergency. They can be identified by blue signs with an orange SOS telephone symbol and may have orange surfacing.
You must not stop in an emergency area unless it’s an emergency, or you’re told to by police, traffic officers, an emergency sign or by red flashing light signals.
You MUST NOT stop on any part of a motorway to make or receive phone calls, except in an emergency.
If you need to stop your vehicle in the event of a breakdown or incident, the safest place to stop is a location designed for parking. For motorways and other high-speed roads, the safest place to stop is a service area. Other places of ‘relative safety’ include lay-bys, emergency areas and hard shoulders.
However, be aware that hard shoulders provide less protection because they’re so close to traffic.
If possible, everyone should keep well away from the stationary vehicle and any other traffic.
To be safe, the rule tells the driver and passengers to:
- Exit the vehicle by the side furthest from traffic.
- Put on high-vis clothing if you have it and it’s within easy reach.
- If possible, get behind a safety barrier. Although watch your step when doing so.
- Don’t stand in a position where your vehicle could hit you if moving traffic collides with it.
- Don’t return to your vehicle even if it’s raining, cold or dark.
- Stay alert and watch out for vehicles or debris coming towards you.
- Don’t attempt repairs or place a warning triangle on the road.
- Animals must stay in the vehicle. In an emergency, you can have them on the verge with you if they’re under control.
If driving on a motorway, drivers and passengers are told not to attempt to retrieve items that have fallen from a vehicle. And DO NOT attempt to move an obstruction. Instead, stop in a place of relative safety and contact the emergency services to report the incident and request help.
If you’re involved in a traffic incident or collision or stop to provide help you should:
- If possible, pull over in a place of relative safety.
- Turn on hazard warning lights.
- Put on high-vis clothing if you have it.
- Ask drivers and passengers to stop smoking.
- Contact the emergency services on 999.
- Move uninjured people away from the vehicles.
- Don’t move injured people from their vehicles unless they’re in immediate danger.
- Don’t remove a motorcyclist’s helmet unless it’s essential and you’re trained to do so.
- Be prepared to give first aid.
- Wait for the emergency services to arrive.
- Be prepared to exchange details.
Protecting your vehicle in every situation
There are clearly a lot of subtle wording tweaks and amendments for you to take in. That’s why keeping motorhome insurance as simple and as straightforward as possible is so important.
Using our panel of insurers, our team will find tailored motorhome insurance just right for you.
Cover can include benefits such as:
- Cover for vehicles valued up to £120,000
- Cover for camping personal effects up to £3,500
- Unlimited mileage cover
- Up to 6 months to complete a self-restoration
Call us for a quote for motorhome insurance today.