The Highway Code 2021
(Revised edition)

(or "How To Drive in the UK Once You've Passed Your Test")

Highway Code book

(First published online in March 2004. By me.
Accept no imitations!)

  1. General

    1. YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON ON THE ROAD. Everyone else should give way to you.
  2. Town Driving

    1. Junctions. The following is particularly useful when stopped at traffic lights. If you are turning left or right, DO NOT INDICATE UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE STARTED TO TURN. This is particularly important if there is a motorcycle next to you. Please note that all motorcyclists are psychic; they know exactly what you are going to do next.

    2. Hatched areas at box junctions: always enter the hatched area at a junction, whether your exit is clear or not. If carefully timed, this causes all other traffic to wait for you (see rule 1.1)

    3. Traffic lights. The best time to go through a junction controlled by traffic lights is when they are about to turn red. With practice, you should be able to achieve the ultimate goal, which is to pass the point of no return just as the lights go green for crossing traffic.

    4. Speed cameras. Ignore these, they never contain any film anyway.

    5. Emergency vehicles. If you hear and / or see an emergency vehicle approaching, IMMEDIATELY stop your vehicle no matter where you are. Emergency vehicles are designed to be able to swerve around you.

    6. Turning a corner. When turning into a side street, make sure you aim for the middle of the road to allow yourself plenty of room. Any approaching traffic must give way to you, especially motorcycles.

    7. Parking. When you have parked your vehicle, open your door when you are ready. For approaching cyclists, it is THEIR problem.

    8. It IS permissible to perform a U-turn in a busy street. Approaching traffic must give way to you (see rule 1.1)

    9. Joining a main road or motorway. Just join it, there is no need to bother about traffic approaching from your right.

    10. Heavy Goods Vehicles / Buses. If these are indicating that they are going to turn LEFT, but move into the centre of the road, this means that the driver is going straight ahead. It is perfectly safe to move alongside them, taking the space they are leaving on their left.

    11. Traffic circles / Roundabouts. If a lot of traffic is present on a roundabout because the exits are blocked for some reason, JOIN THE ROUNDABOUT IMMEDIATELY. This will ensure that you get a space, and prevents foolish drivers approaching from the right getting ahead of you. This can be achieved most effectively by trying to angle your vehicle so that you take up more than one lane. IGNORE the painted lane lines on the road surface; these were put there just to use up excess road paint.

    12. Dropping off passengers / unloading. Always try to do this where the road is narrow and the traffic flow is heavy. Single yellow lines next to the kerb indicate a stopping zone. If there are double yellow lines, this means you may take twice as long.

    13. When overtaking a cyclist, DO NOT INDICATE. The driver of the vehicle following you will be looking at your flashing indicator light. They will therefore not see the cyclist, and could seriously injure or kill them.
      (thanks to John Thackeray for this one)
    14. The music you play in your car is the best; in fact, the ONLY music that shall be heard in town. Ensure that the volume control is set to maximum and all your windows are open, so that everyone else may enjoy it as well.
      (thanks to Thomas Capelle for this addition)
  3. Motorway Driving

    1. Upon joining a motorway, IMMEDIATELY make your way into the third lane. This can be achieved without the use of signalling. If you feel that you absolutely MUST signal, with sufficient practice you should be able to allow your indicator to flash JUST ONCE. After all, the whole idea is to keep other drivers guessing. The exception to this rule is if traffic in Lane 3 is applying rule 3.12 correctly. In this case, leaving the indicator ON means that the other vehicles must give way to you.

    2. If you find that Lane 3 is moving too slowly, you may move into Lane 2. NEVER drive in Lane 1. This Lane is for lorries and idiots.

    3. When changing lanes, do not indicate. This is most effective if you notice a motorcycle approaching from the rear.

    4. Another fun thing to do is to start off in Lane 1, then indicate Right and join Lane 2. LEAVE YOUR INDICATOR ON. This ensures that Lane 3 next to you remains clear, should you wish to use it in future. This can also be effective when driving in Lane 3; indicate Left but stay in Lane 3.

    5. When passing roadworks, upon seeing a sign stating "STAY IN LANE", this actually means you are free to change lanes at will, depending on which one is moving the most quickly.

    6. If traffic is heavy and moving very slowly, choose your lane position carefully. Within your lane, drive as close as possible to the painted lane lines. If this is carefully co-ordinated with other drivers ahead of you, you can create a staggered effect which is most effective in stopping motorcyclists from filtering between the lanes.

    7. A motorway is an IDEAL location for using your mobile phone, as you do not need to concentrate on your driving; it does not matter if you gradually wander across lanes.

    8. Braking. NEVER brake until you have absolutely no choice. This has the effect of keeping your brake lights off until the very last minute, with amusing results for traffic behind you.

    9. The UK has no minimum speed limit. This means that if you WANT to drive at 40mph on a motorway, you may do so. HOWEVER, you MUST be in Lane 2.

    10. When leaving a motorway, do this from Lane 3. It is permissible to indicate Left, but try and time your exit so that you maintain a smooth path from Lane 3 onto the slip road. Any traffic in Lanes 1 and 2 must give way to you (see rule 1.1). Ignore any painted hatched areas on the road surface, these will not damage your tyres.

    11. Variable speed limits. Contrary to popular belief, the flashing signs above a motorway do not indicate the speed at which you should be travelling. They actually indicate the highest speed limit in the closest town and do not apply to the motorway.

    12. Overhead Lane Signals. On some occasions, you will see a red flashing cross above one of the lanes on the motorway. Upon seeing this, you will also notice that there is very little traffic in this lane. IMMEDIATELY make your way into this lane. This will allow you to overtake lots and lots of vehicles. When you eventually reach the obstruction in this lane, just indicate and move into one of the other lanes. Other vehicles must allow you to join their lane (see Rule 1.1).

    13. Following distance. The ideal following distance is approximately 10 feet. This has the following advantages:
      1. it prevents vehicles from sneaking into the gap ahead of you, especially if they are applying rule 3.1.
      2. you have no need to concentrate on anything going on around you; you just need to follow the car in front. (Of course if the driver in front of you is following rule 3.8 some interesting results could occur, but at all times REMEMBER RULE 1.1.)
      3. The correct following distance if a motorcycle is ahead of you, is approximately 4 feet. After all, your vehicle is larger than theirs.

    14. An enjoyable trick to employ if there is a motorcyclist behind you, is to use your windscreen washer/wiper. Careful glances in the rear-view mirror will result in instant gratification as you see the motorcyclist covered with the spray. They are very grateful for this treatment as it helps to wash their visors and cool them down.

    15. Rain. If it has not rained for a while, and you experience a downfall whilst driving, immediately SPEED UP. The combination of oil/dust/rain on the road provides an ideal test for the grip of your tyres. After all, tyre manufacturers design them for this.

    16. Heavy Goods Vehicles. ALWAYS start to overtake another slow-moving vehicle at the start of a long hill, or if you estimate your speed is approximately 1mph faster than theirs. This will enable you to test your engine power against that of the other vehicle. It does not matter that between you, you are blocking two lanes of a three-lane motorway for several miles.

    17. Contrary to popular belief, it is neither illegal nor dangerous to tow a trailer in lane three of the motorway at 80mph. In fact, the bigger the trailer is, the faster you may go. This rule is partically effective when used with rules 3.3, 3.4 and 3.15.
      (thanks to Ben from LRUK for this one)
  4. Mirrors

    1. Mirrors have only two purposes; firstly, they are useful for checking that your hair is properly combed / makeup is correctly applied. Secondly, they are to be used to observe the results of your actions mentioned in points 2.3; 2.8; and 3.14. There is NO NEED to be aware of what is happening behind you. It is the responsibility of drivers behind you to react to your movements.

    2. The same applies to your blind spot. This has nothing to do with driving, but refers to the part of your eye over the optic nerve which is incapable of sight.

  5. Bus/Taxi/Motorcycle lanes

    1. These are one of the best lanes in which to drive as there is hardly any traffic. This is particularly useful if you drive a white van.

    2. You may ignore the solid white line demarcating the bus lane from the rest of the roadway. You may cross this line wherever you want. Contrary to popular belief, painted solid lines will have no effect on your tyres.

  6. Motorcyclists

    1. A demonstration of your skill at handling a motorcycle can be done by performing a "wheelie". This is the definition of riding a motorcycle along on its back wheel only, and must be carried out at a speed of approximately 60mph in a 40mph zone, preferably just before a junction.

    2. Filtering. This manoeuvre is carried out by travelling between lanes of traffic. It is best achieved at a speed of approximately 60mph irrespective of the speed of the traffic. If the traffic is obeying rule 3.6, the best way to deal with this is by shaking your fist at the drivers and revving your engine loudly.

    3. Overtaking. If another motorcycle is ahead of you, the goal here is to overtake them as closely and as quickly as possible, preferably cutting across their path. They are of course psychic (see rule 2.1) so can anticipate this and obey rule 1.1.

  7. Cyclists

    (Cyclists are only given a general mention here because The Highway Code does not apply to them at all).
    1. When traffic lights are red, cyclists may continue their journey uninterrupted.

    2. When crossing junctions (especially when the traffic lights are red), cyclists must STAND UP on their pedals. This gives them a more threatening posture for dealing with any crossing pedestrians.

    3. If cyclists are going straight ahead at a junction, the best position for this is in the right-turn only lane.

    4. If a vehicle ahead of you is indicating to turn left, try to get between the vehicle and the kerb before it turns. See Rule 1.1.

    5. It is not a legal requirement to have lights or reflectors on your bicycle after dark. In fact, if you can make the effort to wear black clothing as well, you are actually assisting other drivers to practice their observation skills. If they can't see you, this proves they need glasses. See Rule 1.1.
  8. Pedestrians

    1. Crossing the road. Ignore the dedicated pedestrian crossing areas; these are for wimps. Cross the road at a point best suited to you. This can have excellent results if traffic is slow-moving or at a standstill, particularly when motorcyclists are filtering between the lanes (see rule 1.1). It is great fun when crossing the road to purposely look the wrong way. Until you get to the centre of the road, keep looking left. Ignore traffic approaching from your right. Once you get to the centre of the road, look right, and ignore traffic approaching from your left; after all, you DO have right of way.*

      *This only applies in countries where vehicles drive on the left. In countries where vehicles drive on the right, look right until you get to the centre of the road, then look left until you have finished crossing.

    2. Junctions. Always cross the road very carefully at a junction. If you time this correctly, you will have the satisfaction of halting the traffic which is turning into the side road; this is particularly effective if the red DO NOT CROSS traffic light is illuminated.

  9. Horse Riders

    1. If these hazards are on a road they must be accustomed to cars. Besides they have no business to be on a road anyway, so there's no need to slow down when going past. Using your horn when you're approaching warns the rider to get out of the way so that Rule 1.1 can be applied.

    2. With practice, you should be able to overtake these animals without allowing your vehicle to cross the white line demarcating the centre of the road, even if the road IS narrow. However you must be careful not to damage your wing mirror on the rider's leg.

  10. Learner Drivers

    1. It is normal for learner drivers to be nervous. But there's really no need; at all times, remember Rule 1.1. This is especially applicable if you are at the head of a long queue of traffic. You do not need to give way to ANYBODY.

    2. A speed of ten miles an hour is quite fast enough; remember that the UK does not have a minimum speed limit.

    3. Try and drive in the centre of the road as much as possible. Kerbs are very dangerous hazards, and it is best to try and give them as wide a berth as possible by leaving at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) between your vehicle and the pavement.

    4. "Give Way" signs mean you must bring your vehicle to a complete stop, even if there are queuing vehicles behind you, and no approaching traffic. This is also an ideal opportunity to start chatting with your instructor to discuss your progress.

    5. When starting off again, you should endeavour to let the clutch out as quickly as possible, whilst using the accelerator pedal sparingly. This is a very tricky skill to master, but you will know you have achieved success when the vehicle moves forward jerkily in a series of fits and starts.

Now for the legal bit...

The above is provided FOR AMUSEMENT ONLY. It in no way represents how you SHOULD drive, or endorses bad driving in any way. It is strongly suggested that not only should you obtain an official copy of THE HIGHWAY CODE,
but actually READ IT!

All the rules above have been compiled from personal observations. These observations led me to conclude that there must be a secret, unwritten "Highway Code" that was being followed. By carefully documenting my observations I have managed to compile this hitherto unwritten code into the rules above.

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