Highway Code

Govt. approved online version here.

Full version with theory supplement and downloadable pdf version here.

Although the Highway Code is not statutory law, certain parts of it attract criminal convictions if not adhered to.

The Highway Code tends to identify these rules with the words MUST/MUST NOT and in most cases will give the relevant piece of statutory law from which the rule derives.

Although not adhering to the other rules will not, of itself, result in a criminal prosecution, failure to observe those rules may be used in court proceedings to establish liability.

The Highway Code applies to all road users; road is defined in Scotland by the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 s.151(1):

  • “road” means , . . . , any way (other than a waterway) over which there is a public right of passage by whatever means and whether subject to a toll or not and includes the road's verge, and any bridge (whether permanent or temporary) over which, or tunnel through which, the road passes; and any reference to a road includes a part thereof; There are certain sections which apply exclusively to motorcyclists and are reproduced below;

  • 83 On all journeys, the rider and pillion passenger on a motorcycle, scooter or moped MUST wear a protective helmet. This does not apply to a follower of the Sikh religion while wearing a turban. Helmets MUST comply with the Regulations and they MUST be fastened securely. Riders and passengers of motor tricycles and quadricycles, also called quadbikes, should also wear a protective helmet. Before each journey check that your helmet visor is clean and in good condition. [Laws RTA 1988 sects 16 & 17 & MC(PH)R as amended reg 4].

  • 84 It is also advisable to wear eye protectors, which MUST comply with the Regulations. Scratched or poorly fitting eye protectors can limit your view when riding, particularly in bright sunshine and the hours of darkness. Consider wearing ear protection. Strong boots, gloves and suitable clothing may help to protect you if you are involved in a collision. [Laws RTA sect 18 & MC(EP)R as amended reg 4]. 

  • 85 You MUST NOT carry more than one pillion passenger who MUST sit astride the machine on a proper seat. They should face forward with both feet on the footrests. You MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger unless your motor cycle is designed to do so. Provisional licence holders MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger. [Laws RTA 1988 sect 23, MV(DL)R 1999 reg 16(6) & CUR 1986 reg 102]. 

  • 86 Daylight riding. Make yourself as visible as possible from the side as well as the front and rear. You could wear a light or brightly coloured helmet and fluorescent clothing or strips. Dipped headlights, even in good daylight, may also make you more conspicuous. However, be aware that other vehicle drivers may still not have seen you, or judged your distance or speed correctly, especially at junctions.

  • 87 Riding in the dark. Wear reflective clothing or strips to improve your visibility in the dark. These reflect light from the headlamps of other vehicles, making you visible from a longer distance. See Rules 113–116 for lighting requirements. 

  • 88 Manoeuvring. You should be aware of what is behind and to the sides before manoeuvring. Look behind you; use mirrors if they are fitted. When in traffic queues look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles and vehicles emerging from junctions or changing lanes. Position yourself so that drivers in front can see you in their mirrors. Additionally, when filtering in slow-moving traffic, take care and keep your speed low.

  • RTA; Road Traffic Act 1988

  • MC(PH)R; Motor Cycles (Protective Helmets) Regulations 1980

  • MC(EP)R; Motor Cycles (Eye Protectors) Regulations 1999 

  • MV(DL)R; Motor Vehicle (Driver Licences) Regulations 1999 

  • CUR; Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986

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