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 181

When turning right at crossroads where an oncoming vehicle is also turning right, there is a choice of two methods

  • turn right side to right side; keep the other vehicle on your right and turn behind it. This is generally the safer method as you have a clear view of any approaching traffic when completing your turn
  • left side to left side, turning in front of each other. This can block your view of oncoming vehicles, so take extra care. Cyclists and motorcyclists in particular may be hidden from your view. Road layout, markings or how the other vehicle is positioned can determine which course should be taken.
Rule 181: Left – Turning right side to right side. Right – Turning left side to left side
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Road junctions (rules 170 to 183)

Highway Code Rule 182

Use your mirrors and give a left-turn signal well before you turn left. Do not overtake just before you turn left and watch out for traffic coming up on your left before you make the turn, especially if driving a large vehicle. Cyclists, motorcyclists and other road users in particular may be hidden from your view.

Rule 182: Do not cut in on cyclists
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Road junctions (rules 170 to 183)

Highway Code Rule 183

When turning

  • keep as close to the left as is safe and practicable
  • give way to any vehicles using a bus lane, cycle lane or tramway from either direction.
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Road junctions (rules 170 to 183)

Highway Code Rule 184

On approaching a roundabout take notice and act on all the information available to you, including traffic signs, traffic lights and lane markings which direct you into the correct lane. You should

  • use Mirrors – Signal – Manoeuvre at all stages
  • decide as early as possible which exit you need to take
  • give an appropriate signal (see Rule 186, below). Time your signals so as not to confuse other road users
  • get into the correct lane
  • adjust your speed and position to fit in with traffic conditions
  • be aware of the speed and position of all the road users around you.
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Roundabouts (rules 184 to 190)

Highway Code Rule 185

When reaching the roundabout you should

  • give priority to traffic approaching from your right, unless directed otherwise by signs, road markings or traffic lights
  • check whether road markings allow you to enter the roundabout without giving way. If so, proceed, but still look to the right before joining
  • watch out for all other road users already on the roundabout; be aware they may not be signalling correctly or at all
  • look forward before moving off to make sure traffic in front has moved off.
Rule 185: Follow the correct procedure at roundabouts
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Roundabouts (rules 184 to 190)

Highway Code Rule 186

Signals and position. When taking the first exit to the left, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise

  • signal left and approach in the left-hand lane
  • keep to the left on the roundabout and continue signalling left to leave.

When taking an exit to the right or going full circle, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise

  • signal right and approach in the right-hand lane
  • keep to the right on the roundabout until you need to change lanes to exit the roundabout
  • signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want.

When taking any intermediate exit, unless signs or markings indicate otherwise

  • select the appropriate lane on approach to the roundabout
  • you should not normally need to signal on approach
  • stay in this lane until you need to alter course to exit the roundabout
  • signal left after you have passed the exit before the one you want.

When there are more than three lanes at the entrance to a roundabout, use the most appropriate lane on approach and through it.

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Roundabouts (rules 184 to 190)

Highway Code Rule 187

In all cases watch out for and give plenty of room to

  • pedestrians who may be crossing the approach and exit roads
  • traffic crossing in front of you on the roundabout, especially vehicles intending to leave by the next exit
  • traffic which may be straddling lanes or positioned incorrectly
  • motorcyclists
  • cyclists and horse riders who may stay in the left-hand lane and signal right if they intend to continue round the roundabout. Allow them to do so
  • long vehicles (including those towing trailers). These might have to take a different course or straddle lanes either approaching or on the roundabout because of their length. Watch out for their signals.
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Roundabouts (rules 184 to 190)

Highway Code Rule 188

Mini-roundabouts. Approach these in the same way as normal roundabouts. All vehicles MUST pass round the central markings except large vehicles which are physically incapable of doing so. Remember, there is less space to manoeuvre and less time to signal. Avoid making U-turns at mini-roundabouts. Beware of others doing this.

Laws

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Roundabouts (rules 184 to 190)

Highway Code Rule 189

At double mini-roundabouts treat each roundabout separately and give way to traffic from the right.

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Roundabouts (rules 184 to 190)

Highway Code Rule 190

Multiple roundabouts. At some complex junctions, there may be a series of mini-roundabouts at each intersection. Treat each mini-roundabout separately and follow the normal rules.

Rule 190: Treat each roundabout separately
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Roundabouts (rules 184 to 190)

Highway Code Rule 191

You MUST NOT park on a crossing or in the area covered by the zig-zag lines. You MUST NOT overtake the moving vehicle nearest the crossing or the vehicle nearest the crossing which has stopped to give way to pedestrians.

Laws

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Pedestrian crossings (rules 191 to 199)

Highway Code Rule 192

In queuing traffic, you should keep the crossing clear.

Rule 192: Keep the crossing clear
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Pedestrian crossings (rules 191 to 199)

Highway Code Rule 193

You should take extra care where the view of either side of the crossing is blocked by queuing traffic or incorrectly parked vehicles. Pedestrians may be crossing between stationary vehicles.

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Pedestrian crossings (rules 191 to 199)

Highway Code Rule 194

Allow pedestrians plenty of time to cross and do not harass them by revving your engine or edging forward.

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Pedestrian crossings (rules 191 to 199)

Highway Code Rule 195

Zebra crossings. As you approach a zebra crossing

  • look out for pedestrians waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop to let them cross
  • you MUST give way when a pedestrian has moved onto a crossing
  • allow more time for stopping on wet or icy roads
  • do not wave or use your horn to invite pedestrians across; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching
  • be aware of pedestrians approaching from the side of the crossing.

A zebra crossing with a central island is two separate crossings (see ‘Crossings‘).

Law

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Pedestrian crossings (rules 191 to 199)

Highway Code Rule 196

Pelican crossings. These are signal-controlled crossings where flashing amber follows the red ‘Stop’ light. You MUST stop when the red light shows. When the amber light is flashing, you MUST give way to any pedestrians on the crossing. If the amber light is flashing and there are no pedestrians on the crossing, you may proceed with caution.

Laws

Rule 196: Allow pedestrians to cross when the amber light is flashing
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Pedestrian crossings (rules 191 to 199)

Highway Code Rule 197

Pelican crossings which go straight across the road are one crossing, even when there is a central island. You MUST wait for pedestrians who are crossing from the other side of the island.

Laws

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Pedestrian crossings (rules 191 to 199)

Highway Code Rule 198

Give way to anyone still crossing after the signal for vehicles has changed to green. This advice applies to all crossings.

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Pedestrian crossings (rules 191 to 199)

Highway Code Rule 199

Toucan, puffin and equestrian crossings. These are similar to pelican crossings, but there is no flashing amber phase; the light sequence for traffic at these three crossings is the same as at traffic lights. If the signal-controlled crossing is not working, proceed with extreme caution.

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Pedestrian crossings (rules 191 to 199)

Highway Code Rule 200

Choose an appropriate place to manoeuvre. If you need to turn your vehicle around, wait until you find a safe place. Try not to reverse or turn round in a busy road; find a quiet side road or drive round a block of side streets.

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Reversing (200 to 203)

Highway Code Rule 201

Do not reverse from a side road into a main road. When using a driveway, reverse in and drive out if you can.

Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Reversing (200 to 203)

Highway Code Rule 202

Look carefully before you start reversing. You should

  • use all your mirrors
  • check the ‘blind spot’ behind you (the part of the road you cannot see easily in the mirrors)
  • check there are no pedestrians (particularly children), cyclists, other road users or obstructions in the road behind you.

Reverse slowly while

  • checking all around
  • looking mainly through the rear window
  • being aware that the front of your vehicle will swing out as you turn.

Get someone to guide you if you cannot see clearly.

Rule 202: Check all round when reversing
Section: Using the road (rules 159 to 203)
Subsection: Reversing (200 to 203)

Highway Code Rule 204

The most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. It is particularly important to be aware of children, older and disabled people, and learner and inexperienced drivers and riders.

Section: Road users requiring extra care (rules 204 to 225)
Subsection: Overview (rule 204)

Highway Code Rule 205

There is a risk of pedestrians, especially children, stepping unexpectedly into the road. You should drive with the safety of children in mind at a speed suitable for the conditions.

Section: Road users requiring extra care (rules 204 to 225)
Subsection: Pedestrians (rules 205 to 210)

Highway Code Rule 206

Drive carefully and slowly when

  • in crowded shopping streets, Home Zones and Quiet Lanes (see Rule 218) or residential areas
  • driving past bus and tram stops; pedestrians may emerge suddenly into the road
  • passing parked vehicles, especially ice cream vans; children are more interested in ice cream than traffic and may run into the road unexpectedly
  • needing to cross a pavement or cycle track; for example, to reach or leave a driveway. Give way to pedestrians and cyclists on the pavement
  • reversing into a side road; look all around the vehicle and give way to any pedestrians who may be crossing the road
  • turning at road junctions; give way to pedestrians who are already crossing the road into which you are turning
  • the pavement is closed due to street repairs and pedestrians are directed to use the road
  • approaching pedestrians on narrow rural roads without a footway or footpath. Always slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary, giving them plenty of room as you drive past.
Rule 206: Watch out for children in busy areas
Section: Road users requiring extra care (rules 204 to 225)
Subsection: Pedestrians (rules 205 to 210)

Highway Code Rule 207

Particularly vulnerable pedestrians. These include:

  • children and older pedestrians who may not be able to judge your speed and could step into the road in front of you. At 40 mph (64 km/h) your vehicle will probably kill any pedestrians it hits. At 20 mph (32 km/h) there is only a 1 in 20 chance of the pedestrian being killed. So kill your speed
  • older pedestrians who may need more time to cross the road. Be patient and allow them to cross in their own time. Do not hurry them by revving your engine or edging forward
  • people with disabilities. People with hearing impairments may not be aware of your vehicle approaching. Those with walking difficulties require more time
  • blind or partially sighted people, who may be carrying a white cane using a guide dog. They may not be able to see you approaching
  • deafblind people who may be carrying a white cane with a red band or using a dog with a red and white harness. They may not see or hear instructions or signals.
Section: Road users requiring extra care (rules 204 to 225)
Subsection: Pedestrians (rules 205 to 210)

Highway Code Rule 208

Near schools. Drive slowly and be particularly aware of young cyclists and pedestrians. In some places, there may be a flashing amber signal below the ‘School’ warning sign which tells you that there may be children crossing the road ahead. Drive very slowly until you are clear of the area.

Section: Road users requiring extra care (rules 204 to 225)
Subsection: Pedestrians (rules 205 to 210)

Highway Code Rule 209

Drive carefully and slowly when passing a stationary bus showing a ‘School Bus’ sign as children may be getting on or off.

School bus (displayed in front and rear window of bus or coach)
Section: Road users requiring extra care (rules 204 to 225)
Subsection: Pedestrians (rules 205 to 210)

Highway Code Rule 210

You MUST stop when a school crossing patrol shows a ‘Stop for children’ sign (see ‘Signals by authorised persons‘ and ‘Traffic signs‘).

Law

Section: Road users requiring extra care (rules 204 to 225)
Subsection: Pedestrians (rules 205 to 210)