Search Jardine News
Open Navigation Menu
How to

The History of the Rules of the Road?

The first official rules of the Road were published in the UK in 1931 and the publication was called The Highway Code, which means that the UK drivers ‘manual’ (today) in 2008 is 77 years old.


When the original Highway Code was sold there were 2.3 million vehicles in the UK that’s compared to at least 31.1 million cars in the UK and about 4.1 million commercial vehicles, these figures are correct up until 2007. (These figures are taken from research carried out by the Society of Motor Manufacturers).

The Highway Code has never left the bestsellers list since records began. This is thanks to its readership of several hundred thousand each year. Before the Highway Code was first introduced 7,000 people were killed in road accidents, this has been halved largely as a result of the Highway Code, greater public awareness and the advances in technology.

When it first came out the Highway Code cost one old penny and it contained 18 pages of advice, this is compared to the latest edition that has 135 pages filled with how to use the road and obey the instructions, which are given via signs or road markings.The original edition informed the public and encouraged road users to be careful and considerate towards others, putting safety first. Today’s Highway Code remains true to its original version but it goes into greater depth on the rules of the road and how motorists and pedestrians should use the public highway.

Rules of the Road in Today’s Highway Code?


In today’s Code there are rules for pedestrians, users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters, cyclists and motorcyclists. Firstly we are going to focus on some of the rules for drivers and motorcyclists.


Rundown of the Dos and Don'ts

  • Vehicle condition – Your vehicle (and trailer) must be in proper working condition.
  • Fitness to drive – You must be fit to drive and if you are feeling tired you should take a break as tiredness can kill. You should always try to fit a 15-minute break into every two hours of your journey. If you do feel sleepy you should pull into a rest area and not onto the hard shoulder of a motorway.
  • Vision - You must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres.
  • Alcohol and Drugs – Do not drink and drive, as it will impair your judgement and ability.

Rules of the Road that you Need to Obey

  • Drive with both hands on the wheel as much as possible so that you retain full control of your vehicle at all times.
  • You mirrors should be in constant use and you should know what is behind you at all times.
  • You should overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so.
  • At road junctions, always be prepared for anything as you may encounter other traffic plus pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Always obey traffic signs and signals and keep your vehicle speed below the speed limit.
  • Always signal when you are about to make any manoeuvre and make sure the road is clear before and during your manoeuvre.
  • If there are animals in the road, take care and drive slowly past them as they could move at any time, be prepared to stop suddenly when passing animals in the road.
  • When following learner-drivers give them plenty of room – remember that they are only starting out and will not be as experienced as you.
  • Always be prepared to pull over to let emergency vehicles past your vehicle, but do not endanger yourself or other road-users when making this manoeuvre.

Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated March 2016.