The Highway Code is the official road user guide for the United Kingdom. First published in 1931 at a price of one penny, it is now one of the UK's top-selling instruction manuals.
The Highway Code contains 306 numbered rules and nine annexes covering pedestrians, animals, cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers. As well as the rules and annexes, there is information on road signs, road markings, vehicle markings and road safety. The annexes contain information on vehicle maintenance, licence requirements, documentation, penalties and vehicle security.
Many of the rules in the Code are legal requirements. If these rules are disobeyed, a criminal offence is committed. Offenders may be fined, given penalty points on their licence or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases offenders may be sent to prison. Such rules are identified by the use of the words 'MUST/MUST NOT'. In addition, the rule includes an abbreviated reference to the legislation which creates the offence.
Although failure to comply with the other rules of the Code will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted, The Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts to establish liability. This includes rules which use advisory wording such as 'should/should not' or 'do/do not'.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 says:
A failure on the part of a person to observe a provision of the Highway Code shall not of itself render that person liable to criminal proceedings of any kind but any such failure may in any proceedings (whether civil or criminal, and including proceedings for an offence under the Traffic Acts, the [1981 c. 14.] Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 or sections 18 to 23 of the [1985 c. 67.] Transport Act 1985) be relied upon by any party to the proceedings as tending to establish or negative any liability which is in question in those proceedings. The Highway Code applies to England, Scotland and Wales; regional specific signs such as driver location signs in England or bilingual signs in Scotland and Wales are not covered in the code.The Highway Code is available in several different formats. In any proceedings, whether civil or criminal, only the Department for Transport's current printed version of the Code should be relied upon.
This website uses the current text as published on the government's official website at https://www.gov.uk/highway-code.
The text and images of the Highway Code itself are © Crown Copyright and reused under the terms of the Open Government Licence.
All original material on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.