The Highway code is a set of rules, guidelines and tips for road users in the UK, with information covering all aspects of the road network and how to use it safely. It’s put together by the Driving Standards Agency and the Department for Transport, and is regularly updated to reflect the current state of the roads and the rules governing them.
Britain’s Highway Code is an essential read for all road users – not just drivers. It helps all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders and car drivers, to use the road network safely. It’s mainly used by learner drivers to help with their theory and practical driving tests, but really it should be read thoroughly by everyone in the country, to make sure everyone knows what is right and wrong when using the road.
What’s in the Highway Code?
The Highway Code book is full of useful road-related advice for everyone in the UK, as well as the legal requirements and prohibited actions on Britain’s highways. Here’s a simple summary of the contents:
- 1. Rules for pedestrians
- 2. Rules for horse riders
- 3. Rules for cyclists and motorcyclists
- 4. Rules for car, van and lorry drivers
- 5. General advice on topics such as weather, parking, motorways, road works and level crossings
- 6. Road signs and marking, with their meanings
- 7. Signals from authority figures and other road users
- 8. Licence and riding/driving requirements
- 9. The law and penalties for breaking it
- 10. Vehicle maintenance, safety and first aid advice
While reading through the code, you’ll see some items are marked by the phrase ‘Must/Must not’ – these are the laws of the roads, and will result in prosecution if not followed properly. Some rules use the terms ‘should/should not’ or ‘do/do not’, which will not by themselves result in prosecution – but they could be used has evidence in court to establish liability.
Learning the Highway Code: top tips
Learner drivers will be very familiar with the Highway Code, and it’s certainly a massive help when taking the theory and practical driving tests – but it can be hard to remember all of those rules. Here are a few handy hints to help make learning the Highway Code easier.
- • Download the official Highway Code app, which includes the full contents, as well as quizzes and a learning tool that tracks your progress and tests your knowledge after each section.
- • Listen to the Highway Code audiobook – listening to the audio version on your headphones lets you get on with other tasks, and you can test yourself on what you’ve learned afterwards.
- • Follow the Highway Code on Twitter and Facebook to get frequent reminders of the most important advice in your social media feeds.
- • Find an online Highway Code quiz to test your knowledge – try reading through the book and taking a different quiz every day to make sure you’ve covered everything.
- • Get a friend to test you on specific subjects – like roundabouts, road markings or signs.
Where to read the Highway Code
It always used to be available just as a book, found in most bookshops – and that version is still available at a reasonable price, especially via online outlets. However the Highway Code is available is a huge variety of formats these days, and many of them are free.
Here are the ways to read the Highway Code:
- 1. Buy the book, in English, Welsh or Irish – note that the Northern Irish version is slightly different.
- 2. Buy an eBook for your preferred eBook reader.
- 3. Download the iOS or Android app.
- 4. Listen to the audiobook version.
- 5. Download the Highway Code pdf document for free.
- 6. Visit the online version on the UK Government website.
- 7. Print the Highway Code off at home.
- 8. Visit your local library and borrow a physical copy.
- 9. Buy the official CD-ROM version for your PC.
- 10. Brush up by following the Highway Code on Twitter or Facebook.
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