Highway Code

The Highway Code is a manual of mandatory rules that must be adhered to by all road users in the UK.

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A common misconception is that only drivers of vehicles must understand the rules in The Highway Code. This is not the case; it is important for all road users to know and understand these rules. These road users include:

  • Drivers
  • Motorcyclists
  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists
  • Children
  • Horse riders
  • Users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters

The Highway Code includes hundreds of rules, many of which are legal requirements. Violating these rules is a criminal offence which may lead to a fine, penalty points, disqualification from driving or being sent to prison in the most serious cases.

As a learner driver, knowledge and understanding of the Highway Code is essential. The questions that make up the driving theory test are derived from the Code so it is vital you revisit it regularly during your learning. We have set up this resource to aid your learning. You may browse the Highway Code rules below or use the search facility to find specific rules pertaining to a particular topic. For example, if you’re looking for information about “box junctions”, type in this term in the search box and hit enter. The rule containing information about this topic will appear (Rule 174). You may also save certain rules that you want to revisit at a later stage. By signing up for an account, you can access these saved rules in your dashboard.

If it has been a while since you took your test, you may not have looked at The Highway Code for a number of years. Just as driving or riding skills evolve and develop with time and experience, the rules and advice given in the Highway Code also change and evolve over time, for any number of reasons. Knowing and applying all the rules could help significantly reduce the number of road casualties. This is a responsibility we all share.

Ultimately, it is up to you to acquire and retain the knowledge contained in The Highway Code, regardless of whether you are a pedestrian or the user of any type of vehicle. It is your responsibility to ensure you keep up to date with the rules in The Highway Code – ignorance is no defence.

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307 Highway Code Rules

Highway Code Rule 1

Pavements (including any path along the side of a road) should be used if provided. Where possible, avoid being next to the kerb with your back to the traffic. If you have to step into the road, look both ways first. Always show due care and consideration for others.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: General guidance (rules 1 to 6)

Highway Code Rule 2

If there is no pavement, keep to the right-hand side of the road so that you can see oncoming traffic. You should take extra care and

  • be prepared to walk in single file, especially on narrow roads or in poor light
  • keep close to the side of the road.

It may be safer to cross the road well before a sharp right-hand bend so that oncoming traffic has a better chance of seeing you. Cross back after the bend.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: General guidance (rules 1 to 6)

Highway Code Rule 3

Help other road users to see you. Wear or carry something light-coloured, bright or fluorescent in poor daylight conditions. When it is dark, use reflective materials (eg armbands, sashes, waistcoats, jackets, footwear), which can be seen by drivers using headlights up to three times as far away as non-reflective materials.

Rule 3: Help yourself to be seen
Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: General guidance (rules 1 to 6)

Highway Code Rule 4

Young children should not be out alone on the pavement or road (see Rule 7). When taking children out, keep between them and the traffic and hold their hands firmly. Strap very young children into push-chairs or use reins. When pushing a young child in a buggy, do not push the buggy into the road when checking to see if it is clear to cross, particularly from between parked vehicles.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: General guidance (rules 1 to 6)

Highway Code Rule 5

Organised walks. Large groups of people walking together should use a pavement if available; if one is not, they should keep to the left. Look-outs should be positioned at the front and back of the group, and they should wear fluorescent clothes in daylight and reflective clothes in the dark. At night, the look-out in front should show a white light and the one at the back a red light. People on the outside of large groups should also carry lights and wear reflective clothing.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: General guidance (rules 1 to 6)

Highway Code Rule 7

The Green Cross Code. The advice given below on crossing the road is for all pedestrians. Children should be taught the Code and should not be allowed out alone until they can understand and use it properly. The age when they can do this is different for each child. Many children cannot judge how fast vehicles are going or how far away they are. Children learn by example, so parents and carers should always use the Code in full when out with their children. They are responsible for deciding at what age children can use it safely by themselves.

A First find a safe place to cross and where there is space to reach the pavement on the other side. Where there is a crossing nearby, use it. It is safer to cross using a subway, a footbridge, an island, a zebra, pelican, toucan or puffin crossing, or where there is a crossing point controlled by a police officer, a school crossing patrol or a traffic warden. Otherwise choose a place where you can see clearly in all directions. Try to avoid crossing between parked cars (see Rule 14), on a blind bend, or close to the brow of a hill. Move to a space where drivers and riders can see you clearly. Do not cross the road diagonally.

Rule 7: Look all around and listen for traffic before crossing

B Stop just before you get to the kerb, where you can see if anything is coming. Do not get too close to the traffic. If there’s no pavement, keep back from the edge of the road but make sure you can still see approaching traffic.

C Look all around for traffic and listen. Traffic could come from any direction. Listen as well, because you can sometimes hear traffic before you see it.

D If traffic is coming, let it pass. Look all around again and listen. Do not cross until there is a safe gap in the traffic and you are certain that there is plenty of time. Remember, even if traffic is a long way off, it may be approaching very quickly.

E When it is safe, go straight across the road – do not run. Keep looking and listening for traffic while you cross, in case there is any traffic you did not see, or in case other traffic appears suddenly. Look out for cyclists and motorcyclists travelling between lanes of traffic. Do not walk diagonally across the road.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 8

At a junction. When crossing the road, look out for traffic turning into the road, especially from behind you. If you have started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, you have priority and they should give way (see Rule 170).

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 9

Pedestrian Safety Barriers. Where there are barriers, cross the road only at the gaps provided for pedestrians. Do not climb over the barriers or walk between them and the road.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 10

Tactile paving. Raised surfaces that can be felt underfoot provide warning and guidance to blind or partially sighted people. The most common surfaces are a series of raised studs, which are used at crossing points with a dropped kerb, or a series of rounded raised bars which are used at level crossings, at the top and bottom of steps and at some other hazards.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 11

One-way streets. Check which way the traffic is moving. Do not cross until it is safe to do so without stopping. Bus and cycle lanes may operate in the opposite direction to the rest of the traffic.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 12

Bus and cycle lanes. Take care when crossing these lanes as traffic may be moving faster than in the other lanes, or against the flow of traffic.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 13

Routes shared with cyclists. Some cycle tracks run alongside footpaths or pavements, using a segregating feature to separate cyclists from people on foot. Segregated routes may also incorporate short lengths of tactile paving to help visually impaired people stay on the correct side. On the pedestrian side this will comprise a series of flat-topped bars running across the direction of travel (ladder pattern). On the cyclist side the same bars are orientated in the direction of travel (tramline pattern). Not all routes which are shared with cyclists are segregated. Take extra care where this is so (see Rule 62).

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 14

Parked vehicles. If you have to cross between parked vehicles, use the outside edges of the vehicles as if they were the kerb. Stop there and make sure you can see all around and that the traffic can see you. Make sure there is a gap between any parked vehicles on the other side, so you can reach the pavement. Never cross the road in front of, or behind, any vehicle with its engine running, especially a large vehicle, as the driver may not be able to see you.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 15

Reversing vehicles. Never cross behind a vehicle which is reversing, showing white reversing lights or sounding a warning.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 16

Moving vehicles. You MUST NOT get onto or hold onto a moving vehicle.

Law

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 17

At night. Wear something reflective to make it easier for others to see you (see Rule 3). If there is no pedestrian crossing nearby, cross the road near a street light so that traffic can see you more easily.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossing the road (rules 7 to 17)

Highway Code Rule 18

At all crossings. When using any type of crossing you should

  • always check that the traffic has stopped before you start to cross or push a pram onto a crossing
  • always cross between the studs or over the zebra markings. Do not cross at the side of the crossing or on the zig-zag lines, as it can be dangerous.

You MUST NOT loiter on any type of crossing.

Laws

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 19

Zebra crossings. Give traffic plenty of time to see you and to stop before you start to cross. Vehicles will need more time when the road is slippery. Wait until traffic has stopped from both directions or the road is clear before crossing. Remember that traffic does not have to stop until someone has moved onto the crossing. Keep looking both ways, and listening, in case a driver or rider has not seen you and attempts to overtake a vehicle that has stopped.

Rule 19: Zebra crossings have flashing beacons
Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 20

Where there is an island in the middle of a zebra crossing, wait on the island and follow Rule 19 before you cross the second half of the road – it is a separate crossing.

Rule 20: Zebra crossings with a central island are two separate crossings
Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 21

At traffic lights. There may be special signals for pedestrians. You should only start to cross the road when the green figure shows. If you have started to cross the road and the green figure goes out, you should still have time to reach the other side, but do not delay. If no pedestrian signals have been provided, watch carefully and do not cross until the traffic lights are red and the traffic has stopped. Keep looking and check for traffic that may be turning the corner. Remember that traffic lights may let traffic move in some lanes while traffic in other lanes has stopped.

Rule 21: At traffic lights, puffin and pelican crossings. *At pelican crossings only.
Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 22

Pelican crossings. These are signal-controlled crossings operated by pedestrians. Push the control button to activate the traffic signals. When the red figure shows, do not cross. When a steady green figure shows, check the traffic has stopped then cross with care. When the green figure begins to flash you should not start to cross. If you have already started you should have time to finish crossing safely.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 23

Puffin crossings differ from pelican crossings as the red and green figures are above the control box on your side of the road and there is no flashing green figure phase. Press the button and wait for the green figure to show.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 24

When the road is congested, traffic on your side of the road may be forced to stop even though their lights are green. Traffic may still be moving on the other side of the road, so press the button and wait for the signal to cross.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 25

Toucan crossings are light-controlled crossings which allow cyclists and pedestrians to share crossing space and cross at the same time. They are push-button operated. Pedestrians and cyclists will see the green signal together. Cyclists are permitted to ride across.

Rule 25: Toucan crossings can be used by both cyclists and pedestrians
Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 26

At some crossings there is a bleeping sound or voice signal to indicate to blind or partially sighted people when the steady green figure is showing, and there may be a tactile signal to help deafblind people.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 27

Equestrian crossings are for horse riders. They have pavement barriers, wider crossing spaces, horse and rider figures in the light panels and either two sets of controls (one higher), or just one higher control panel.

Rule 27: Equestrian crossings are used by horse riders. There is often a parallel crossing
Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 28

Staggered’ pelican or puffin crossings. When the crossings on each side of the central refuge are not in line they are two separate crossings. On reaching the central island, press the button again and wait for a steady green figure.

Rule 28: Staggered crossings (with an island in the middle) are two separate crossings
Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 29

Crossings controlled by an authorised person. Do not cross the road unless you are signalled to do so by a police officer, traffic warden or school crossing patrol. Always cross in front of them.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)

Highway Code Rule 30

Where there are no controlled crossing points available it is advisable to cross where there is an island in the middle of the road. Use the Green Cross Code (see Rule 7) to cross to the island and then stop and use it again to cross the second half of the road.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Crossings (rules 18 to 30)