Highway Code changes: the revised rules drivers of modern cars need to know

Highway Code changes: the revised rules drivers of modern cars need to know
Highway Code changes: the revised rules drivers of modern cars need to know

The Highway Code has been updated to set out clearer rules for motorists using driver aids and the latest in-car technology.

The guide, which outlines the law and driving advice for motorists, offers new guidance on using advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as motorway assist and remote parking.

The changes to rules 149, 150, 160 and 239 of the Code follow a government consultation launched in 2016 to consider the implications of semi-autonomous and self-driving vehicle systems.

Anyone not following the rules could find themselves facing an unlimited fine and up to 11 penalty points on their licence.

The biggest new piece of advice focuses on driver aids such as adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance, which can sometimes be paired together to offer motorway or queue assist functions.

These increasingly common systems use sensors and cameras to maintain a car’s gap to the vehicle in front and its position in a lane without driver input.

Reduced concentration

Highway Code
The latest adaptive cruise control systems will automatically maintain a gap between vehicles. Picture: Shutterstock

The Highway Code makes clear that legal responsibility for the car remains with the driver at all times when using these systems.

It states: You MUST exercise proper control of your vehicle at all times. Do not rely on driver assistance systems such as motorway assist, lane departure warnings, or remote control parking. They are available to assist but you should not reduce your concentration levels.

“As the driver, you are still responsible for the vehicle if you use a driver assistance system… You MUST have full control over these systems at all times.”

If police think you weren’t in full control of your car they can charge you with dangerous driving or driving without due care and attention. Careless driving carries a maximum fine of £2,500 and nine points as well as a potential driving ban. Dangerous driving can be punished with an unlimited fine, up to 11 points, a mandatory ban and up to six months in jail.

Parking precautions

The update Code also includes advice for those lucky enough to have a car with remote parking. Some BMWs and Mercedes now allow the driver to get out of the car and park the car using the key fob or phone app and a new law in June made such systems legal to use in the UK. However, the Code reminds drivers: “You MUST exercise proper control of your vehicle at all times.

“You may park your vehicle using a hand-held remote control app or device. The app or device MUST be legal, and you should not put other people in danger when you use it.

“Before using a hand-held device to help you to park, you MUST make sure it is safe to do so. Then, you should move the vehicle into the parking space in the safest way, and by the shortest route possible.

Highway Code
Some new cars, such as the BMW 5 Series allow you to park the car while outside the vehicle. Picture: BMW

“When you use a hand-held device to help you to park, you MUST remain in control of the vehicle at all times. Do not use the hand-held device for anything else while you are using it to help you park, and do not put anyone in danger. Use the hand-held device according to the manufacturer’s instructions.”

The new advice aims to make it clear that while such assistance systems can be useful they don’t replace the driver’s responsibility and they also warn of the dangers of being distracted by in-car systems.

It says: “Do not be distracted by maps or screen-based information (such as navigation or vehicle management systems) while driving or riding. If necessary find a safe place to stop.”

The changes apply to the Highway Code in England, Scotland and Wales – there is a separate Code for Northern Ireland.

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