Highway Code changes bring two new rules and 33 updates from this week

New information on smart motorways, breakdowns, towing and documents included in latest version of driver guide

A raft of updates to the Highway Code have come into effect, with new advice for drivers on towing, using smart motorways and handling breakdowns.

From 14 September, 33 updates and two new rules have been added to the drivers’ handbook following a public consultation.

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Among the key changes are more detailed instructions on how to use smart motorways and understand the messages on overhead gantries.

This includes guidance on staying out of lanes closed with a red X sign and information on emergency refuge area signage.

There is also new guidance on the use of variable speed limits to manage congestion on smart motorways and on the use of gantry-mounted cameras to enforce these limits and lane closures.

The two brand new rules relate to emergency refuge areas on smart motorways and breakdowns.

Rule 270 adds images and information on the location and use of emergency areas as well as how to identify them.

Rule 275 sets out guidance to make sure drivers understand what a “place of relative safety” is in event of a breakdown and the safest places to stop on different types of road.

Additional guidance also includes information on what to do if your car breaks down in the live lane of a motorway.

Other updates cover matters including the need to have the correct licence and insurance, speed limits, ensuring vehicles are roadworthy and the rules around towing, including speed limits, lane use and safe towing practices.

Highways England’s head of road safety, Jeremy Phillips, said: “The updates to the Highway Code will help everyone who uses our busiest roads.

“Thanks to the input from road users, we have been able to produce clearer guidance on how to use our motorways and major A-roads which will make journeys even safer.

“The new edition of The Highway Code can give everyone on our roads the confidence that they have the knowledge and skills to safely get from A to B.”

Further changes to the Code are expected early next year after Transport Minister Grant Shapps confirmed that plans for a hierarchy of road users would be submitted for parliamentary approval this autumn.

The plans would mean that “road users who can do the greatest harm will have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others”, as well as giving pedestrians and cyclists priority at junctions.