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 31

Emergency vehicles. If an ambulance, fire engine, police or other emergency vehicle approaches using flashing blue lights, headlights and/or sirens, keep off the road.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Situations needing extra care (rules 31 to 35)

Highway Code Rule 32

Buses. Get on or off a bus only when it has stopped to allow you to do so. Watch out for cyclists when you are getting off. Never cross the road directly behind or in front of a bus. Wait until it has moved off and you can see clearly in both directions.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Situations needing extra care (rules 31 to 35)

Highway Code Rule 33

Tramways. These may run through pedestrian areas. Their path will be marked out by shallow kerbs, changes in the paving or other road surface, white lines or yellow dots. Cross at designated crossings where provided. Elsewhere treat trams as you would other road vehicles and look both ways along the track before crossing. Do not walk along the track as trams may come up behind you. Trams move quietly and cannot steer to avoid you.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Situations needing extra care (rules 31 to 35)

Highway Code Rule 34

Railway level crossings. You MUST NOT cross or pass a stop line when the red lights show, (including a red pedestrian figure). Also do not cross if an alarm is sounding or the barriers are being lowered. The tone of the alarm may change if another train is approaching. If there are no lights, alarms or barriers, stop, look both ways and listen before crossing. A tactile surface comprising rounded bars running across the direction of pedestrian travel may be installed on the footpath approaching a level crossing to warn visually impaired people of its presence. The tactile surface should extend across the full width of the footway and should be located at an appropriate distance from the barrier or projected line of the barrier.

Law

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Situations needing extra care (rules 31 to 35)

Highway Code Rule 35

Street and pavement repairs. A pavement may be closed temporarily because it is not safe to use. Take extra care if you are directed to walk in or to cross the road.

Section: Rules for pedestrians (rules 1 to 35)
Subsection: Situations needing extra care (rules 31 to 35)

Highway Code Rule 36

There is one class of manual wheelchair (called a Class 1 invalid carriage) and two classes of powered wheelchairs and powered mobility scooters. Manual wheelchairs and Class 2 vehicles are those with an upper speed limit of 4 mph (6 km/h) and are designed to be used on pavements. Class 3 vehicles are those with an upper speed limit of 8 mph (12 km/h) and are equipped to be used on the road as well as the pavement.

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: Powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 37)

Highway Code Rule 37

When you are on the road you should obey the guidance and rules for other vehicles; when on the pavement you should follow the guidance and rules for pedestrians.

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: Powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 37)

Highway Code Rule 38

Pavements are safer than roads and should be used when available. You should give pedestrians priority and show consideration for other pavement users, particularly those with a hearing or visual impairment who may not be aware that you are there.

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: On pavements (rules 38 to 40)

Highway Code Rule 39

Powered wheelchairs and scooters MUST NOT travel faster than 4 mph (6 km/h) on pavements or in pedestrian areas. You may need to reduce your speed to adjust to other pavement users who may not be able to move out of your way quickly enough or where the pavement is too narrow.

Law

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: On pavements (rules 38 to 40)

Highway Code Rule 40

When moving off the pavement onto the road, you should take special care. Before moving off, always look round and make sure it’s safe to join the traffic. Always try to use dropped kerbs when moving off the pavement, even if this means travelling further to locate one. If you have to climb or descend a kerb, always approach it at right angles and don’t try to negotiate a kerb higher than the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: On pavements (rules 38 to 40)

Highway Code Rule 41

You should take care when travelling on the road as you may be travelling more slowly than other traffic (your machine is restricted to 8 mph (12 km/h) and may be less visible).

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: On the road (rules 41 to 46)

Highway Code Rule 42

When on the road, Class 3 vehicles should travel in the direction of the traffic. Class 2 users should always use the pavement when it is available. When there is no pavement, you should use caution when on the road. Class 2 users should, where possible, travel in the direction of the traffic. If you are travelling at night when lights MUST be used, you should travel in the direction of the traffic to avoid confusing other road users.

Law

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: On the road (rules 41 to 46)

Highway Code Rule 43

You MUST follow the same rules about using lights, indicators and horns as for other road vehicles, if your vehicle is fitted with them. At night, lights MUST be used. Be aware that other road users may not see you and you should make yourself more visible – even in the daytime and also at dusk – by, for instance, wearing a reflective jacket or reflective strips on the back of the vehicle.

Law

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: On the road (rules 41 to 46)

Highway Code Rule 44

Take extra care at road junctions. When going straight ahead, check to make sure there are no vehicles about to cross your path from the left, the right, or overtaking you and turning left. There are several options for dealing with right turns, especially turning from a major road. If moving into the middle of the road is difficult or dangerous, you can

  • stop on the left-hand side of the road and wait for a safe gap in the traffic
  • negotiate the turn as a pedestrian, i.e. travel along the pavement and cross the road between pavements where it is safe to do so. Class 3 users should switch the vehicle to the lower speed limit when on pavements.

If the junction is too hazardous, it may be worth considering an alternative route. Similarly, when negotiating major roundabouts (i.e. with two or more lanes) it may be safer for you to use the pavement or find a route which avoids the roundabout altogether.

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: On the road (rules 41 to 46)

Highway Code Rule 45

All normal parking restrictions should be observed. Your vehicle should not be left unattended if it causes an obstruction to other pedestrians – especially those in wheelchairs. Parking concessions provided under the Blue Badge scheme (see Further reading) will apply to those vehicles displaying a valid badge.

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: On the road (rules 41 to 46)

Highway Code Rule 46

These vehicles MUST NOT be used on motorways (see Rule 253). They should not be used on unrestricted dual carriageways where the speed limit exceeds 50 mph (80 km/h) but if they are used on these dual carriageways, they MUST have a flashing amber beacon. A flashing amber beacon should be used on all other dual carriageways (see Rule 220).

Laws

Section: Rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters (rules 36 to 46)
Subsection: On the road (rules 41 to 46)

Highway Code Rule 47

Horse-drawn vehicles used on the highway should be operated and maintained in accordance with standards set out in the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice for Horse-Drawn Vehicles. This Code lays down the requirements for a road driving assessment and includes a comprehensive list of safety checks to ensure that a carriage and its fittings are safe and in good working order. The standards set out in the Road Driving Assessment may be required to be met by a Local Authority if an operator wishes to obtain a local authority licence to operate a passenger-carrying service.

Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Horse-drawn vehicles (rules 47 to 48)

Highway Code Rule 48

Safety equipment and clothing. All horse-drawn vehicles should have two red rear reflectors. It is safer not to drive at night but if you do, a light showing white to the front and red to the rear MUST be fitted.

Law

Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Horse-drawn vehicles (rules 47 to 48)

Highway Code Rule 49

Safety equipment. Children under the age of 14 MUST wear a helmet which complies with the Regulations. It MUST be fastened securely. Other riders should also follow these requirements. These requirements do not apply to a child who is a follower of the Sikh religion while wearing a turban.

Laws

Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Horse riders (rules 49 to 55)

Highway Code Rule 50

Other clothing. You should wear

  • boots or shoes with hard soles and heels
  • light-coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight
  • reflective clothing if you have to ride at night or in poor visibility.
Rule 50: Help yourself to be seen
Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Horse riders (rules 49 to 55)

Highway Code Rule 51

At night. It is safer not to ride on the road at night or in poor visibility, but if you do, make sure you wear reflective clothing and your horse has reflective bands above the fetlock joints. A light which shows white to the front and red to the rear should be fitted, with a band, to the rider’s right arm and/or leg/riding boot. If you are leading a horse at night, carry a light in your right hand, showing white to the front and red to the rear, and wear reflective clothing on both you and your horse. It is strongly recommended that a fluorescent/reflective tail guard is also worn by your horse.

Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Horse riders (rules 49 to 55)

Highway Code Rule 52

Before you take a horse on to a road, you should

  • ensure all tack fits well and is in good condition
  • make sure you can control the horse.

Always ride with other, less nervous horses if you think that your horse will be nervous of traffic. Never ride a horse without both a saddle and bridle.

Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Horse riders (rules 49 to 55)

Highway Code Rule 53

Before riding off or turning, look behind you to make sure it is safe, then give a clear arm signal.

When riding on the road you should

  • keep to the left
  • keep both hands on the reins unless you are signalling
  • keep both feet in the stirrups
  • not carry another person
  • not carry anything which might affect your balance or get tangled up with the reins
  • keep a horse you are leading to your left
  • move in the direction of the traffic flow in a one-way street
  • never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.
Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Horse riders (rules 49 to 55)

Highway Code Rule 54

You MUST NOT take a horse onto a footpath or pavement, and you should not take a horse onto a cycle track. Use a bridleway where possible. Equestrian crossings may be provided for horse riders to cross the road and you should use these where available (see Rule 27). You should dismount at level crossings where a ‘horse rider dismount’ sign is displayed.

Laws

Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Horse riders (rules 49 to 55)

Highway Code Rule 55

Avoid roundabouts wherever possible. If you use them you should

  • keep to the left and watch out for vehicles crossing your path to leave or join the roundabout
  • signal right when riding across exits to show you are not leaving
  • signal left just before you leave the roundabout.
Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Horse riders (rules 49 to 55)

Highway Code Rule 56

Dogs. Do not let a dog out on the road on its own. Keep it on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists or horse riders.

Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Other animals (rules 56 to 58)

Highway Code Rule 57

When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves, if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.

Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Other animals (rules 56 to 58)

Highway Code Rule 58

Animals being herded. These should be kept under control at all times. You should, if possible, send another person along the road in front to warn other road users, especially at a bend or the brow of a hill. It is safer not to move animals after dark, but if you do, then wear reflective clothing and ensure that lights are carried (white at the front and red at the rear of the herd).

Section: Rules about animals (rules 47 to 58)
Subsection: Other animals (rules 56 to 58)

Highway Code Rule 59

Clothing. You should wear

  • a cycle helmet which conforms to current regulations, is the correct size and securely fastened
  • appropriate clothes for cycling. Avoid clothes which may get tangled in the chain, or in a wheel or may obscure your lights
  • light-coloured or fluorescent clothing which helps other road users to see you in daylight and poor light
  • reflective clothing and/or accessories (belt, arm or ankle bands) in the dark.
Rule 59: Help yourself to be seen
Section: Rules for cyclists (rules 59 to 82)
Subsection: Overview (rules 59 to 71)

Highway Code Rule 60

At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector (and amber pedal reflectors, if manufactured after 1/10/85). White front reflectors and spoke reflectors will also help you to be seen. Flashing lights are permitted but it is recommended that cyclists who are riding in areas without street lighting use a steady front lamp.

Law

Section: Rules for cyclists (rules 59 to 82)
Subsection: Overview (rules 59 to 71)