Changes to the Highway Code that Impact HGV Drivers and Hauliers


On the 19th of January 2022 changes were made to the Highway Code which affect HGV drivers.  The new rules affect how HGV drivers are required to behave when on the road, and also affect how drivers are penalised if an accident should occur.

All haulage operators and drivers need to ensure they are familiar with the changes and how they impact them and the way they operate their vehicles.

Hierarchy of new Highway Code to Road Users

One of the most talked about changes is the new ‘hierarchy or road users’.  The new hierarchy has been designed to ensure that those people identified as being the most vulnerable when using the road are protected from those who are considered to pose the most risk to others. 

HGV drivers operate some of the biggest vehicles on the roads and are therefore deemed to pose the greatest level of risk to others.

The new rules aim to ensure that those with the greatest risk also shoulder the greatest responsibility when operating their vehicles.  The aim of the rules is to prevent danger to other people and road users. 

For drivers, it means that it is likely that the courts will deal with them harsher than seen previously.  The courts will seek to assess HGV drivers within the context of them being in charge of heavier and ultimately more dangerous vehicles.  Therefore, the level of responsibility expected from HGV drivers will be higher.

What should Drivers and Operators do?

As the main objective of the new hierarchy of users is to ensure that there is a mutually respectful, safe and effective culture between road users, it is essential that those driving and operating HGV fleets are fully aware of the rules and their responsibilities.

For any HGV operator or driver, van or car driver, they are faced with added responsibility to ensure that they drive safely, avoid collisions and accidents and are considerate of others.

HGV drivers need to be made fully aware of the new rules which state that they must give way to all road users.

What so the new rules say?

The new hierarchy of users rules state that everyone should behave responsibly when using the road.  Pedestrians, horse riders (in certain situations) and cyclists will have priority and must be given priority by drivers.

Rule one of the hierarchy states the following:         

  • Those drivers who are deemed to have the potential to cause the greatest harm (such as HGV drivers), in the event of an accident or collision will bear greater responsibility when using the road
  • The larger the vehicle you drive, the greater your responsibility
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles, including HGV drivers, will therefore be required to provide a safe environment for other people and vehicles using the road

Rule two of the hierarchy states the following:

  • Pedestrians will have the greatest rights when using the road
  • Cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers will be expected to give way to any pedestrians who are waiting to cross or are crossing a road into which a driver or cyclist is turning
  • If a pedestrian wants to cross a parallel crossing, drivers, and cyclists must give way to the pedestrian

Rule three of the hierarchy states the following:

  • Cyclists have priority when cars are turning
  • Drivers will not be permitted to cut across cyclists, horse-drawn vehicles, and horse riders when they are changing lane or turning in or out of a junction
  • Drivers should avoid turning at junctions if it means a cyclist, horse-drawn vehicle or horse rider needs to swerve
  • Drivers should wait for a safe gap before turning

Remember that cyclists and horse riders are also expected to be more vigilant and maintain road safety, but as they are deemed to have the potential to cause less damage the responsibility on them is not as high as the responsibility placed on  drivers or other vehicles.

How to stay safe under the new Highway Code rules

For any driver of a professional vehicle, they must ensure that they understand the new rules and prioritise safety for other road users and themselves. 

Although the main hierarchy rules have been mentioned above, there are certain other actions HGV drivers need to take to ensure that they comply with the new rules:

  • Increase gaps when transiting through towns and cities to avoid rear end shunts and collisions
  • Be aware of pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists and horse drawn vehicles
  • Be patient when looking for a gap to turn
  • Try not to overtake other road users especially when they are turning into or out of junctions
  • Do not cut across other road users, especially at junctions or roundabouts
  • Ensure there is a 2-metre gap when overtaking cyclists and only overtake when you are sure it is safe to do so
  • Keep to a slow speed when passing walkers or pedestrians and be vigilant when passing other people who use roads that have limited pavement space

It is also a good idea to check the terms of your insurance policy and to ensure your drivers have sufficient training to ensure they comply with all new rules relating to the industry.  

If you feel like you need additional insurance cover, then always call your insurance provider to make any adjustments required to your policy.

HGV Insurance

Heavy goods vehicles need comprehensive insurance to ensure the vehicle is protected alongside the driver and the goods carried by the vehicle. Depending on the business you work for, you may need a non-standard and bespoke insurance policy.

ISIS Insurance offers a wide variety of insurance options and quotes that cover everything a HGV might need when it comes to insurance, from skip lorries to refrigerated vehicles.