New Highway Code law changes in full

The Department for Transport published its new updated rules for the UK’s highway code on September 14, 2021, with important edits made to emergency parking and areas.

More specifically, there are changes to the rules regarding the use of motorways from September 14.

As a result, whether a person is learning to drive or has been travelling on the roads for years, it is important to check the code on a regular basis, as urged by the government.

As a matter of fact, the Highway Code’s rules are updated when there are changes in the law and new rules may be added more often than expected.

This month only, a total of 33 existing rules have been amended and two new rules introduced.

In addition, an important number of amendments were made to the additional information annexes.

What are the new Highway Code rules for 2021?

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

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

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• 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

Updated Rule 240 to ensure readers understand:

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

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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 256 to add images and ensure readers understand:

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

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

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• 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

• 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 263 to ensure readers understand:

• it is illegal to reverse along any part of a motorway, including slip roads, hard shoulders and emergency areas

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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

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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

• 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

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 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

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• 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

Updated Rule 286 to ensure readers understand:

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

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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

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