The Highway Code (1931)

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[Crown Copyright Reserved.]

[Crest Omitted]

Ministry of Transport


THE
HIGHWAY CODE

Issued by the Minister of Transport
with the authority of Parliament in
pursuance of Section 45 of the
Road Traffic Act, 1930.


LONDON:
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE
To be purchased directly from H.M Stationery Office at the following addresses:
Adastral House, Kingsway, London, W.C.2; 120, George St., Edinburgh;
York Street. Manchester; I, St, Andrew's Crescent, Cardiff:
15. Donegall Square West, Belfast;
or through any Bookseller.

1931. Price 1d. net.

55-166



A NOTE OF INTRODUCTION
BY THE
MINISTER OF TRANSPORT.

BY Section 45 of the Road Traffic Act, 1930, the Minister of Transport is directed to prepare a code of directions for the guidance of road users, to be known as "The Highway Code."

During the passage of the Act through Parliament, the opinion was expressed almost universally that, although legislation and regulations more appropriate than those then in force might help to reduce the dangers of the road, much more could be done to ensure safety by the instruction and education of all road users as to their duties and obligations to one another and to the community as a whole.

It is hoped that the code of conduct now issued in accordance with the direction contained in the Act may come to be universally respected and obeyed. The Act provides that a failure to observe any provision of the code shall not of itself be an offence, but that in any proceedings whether civil or criminal, including any proceedings for an offence under the Act itself, any such failure may be relied upon as tending to establish or negative any liability which is in question.

Under the Acts and Regulations governing the use of the highways certain actions are definitely forbidden as being offences. "The Highway Code" is intended as a supplementary guide to the proper use of the highway, and as a code of good manners to be observed by all courteous and considerate persons. It in no way supplants these definite rules or relieves anyone from the necessity of strictly observing them.

If the code is to serve its purpose, every user of the road should study it as a whole, and not merely read the particular sections which have a special interest for him. For example, the rule of the road for all traffic is stated on the second page of the code, and is not repeated in each section.



THE HIGHWAY CODE


CONTENTS
  Page
To All Users on the Highway 3
To the Drivers of Motor Vehicles 5
To Motor Cyclists 10
To the Drivers of Horse-Drawn Vehicles 11
To Persons in Charge of Animals 11
To Pedal Cyclists 12
To Pedestrains 14

TRAFFIC SIGNALS.

Part I.
Signals to be given by Police Constables and others engaged in the Regulation of Traffic 15
Part II.
Signals to be given by Drivers 13



THE

HIGHWAY CODE


Issued by the Minister of Transport
with the Authority of Parliament in
pursuance of Section 45 of the
Road Traflic Act, 1930.


TO ALL USERS OF THE HIGHWAY.

GENERAL.

ALWAYS _be careful and considerate towards others. As a responsible citizen you have a duty to the community not to endanger or impede others in their lawful use of the King’s Highway.

Remember that all persons—pedestrians, cyclists,persons leading, riding or driving animals and the drivers of motor or horse–drawn vehicles—have a right to use the highway and an obligation to respect the rights of others. Good manners and consideration for others are as desirable and are as much appreciated on the road as elsewhere.

Bear in mind the difficulties of others and try not to add to them.

Keep on guard against the errors of others. Never take a risk in the hope or expectation that everyone else will do what is necessary to avoid the consequences of your rashness.

Take special care in bad weather and when the roads are slippery and all road users have less control over their movements.

CHILDREN.

Warn children of the dangers of the road and teach them how to avoid them,

RULE OF THE ROAD. Vehicles.—Keep to the left (or near side) except when overtaking other vehicles or avoiding obstructions: when overtaking, overtake on the right (or off-side).

[This rule does not necessarily apply in places where there are special arrangements for the regulation of traffic, such as "one-way" streets, "roundabouts", etc. In such places get into your proper line of traffic and keep in it. Subject to any local provisions to the contrary tramcars may be overtaken on either side.]

Pedestrians.—Always walk on the footpath where one is provided : if there is no footpath it is generally better to walk on the right of the carriageway so as to face oncoming traffic.

Lead Animals.—It is the usual practice when leading an animal to keep to the right so as to face oncoming traffic.

Ridden Animals.—Observe the rule of the road for vehicles unless leading another animal (see above).

TO THE DRIVERS OF MOTOR VEHICLES.

SPEED.

CAREFULLY regulate your speed at all times to suit the circumstances and weather prevailing. Always have your vehicle under full control and be ready and able to pull up well within the distance which you can see to be clear.

[This is in addition to the strict observance of any speed limits which may be in force.]

SIGNALS. When you intend to stop, slow down, or change direction, give the appropriate signal clearly, definitely and in good time.

[Hand signals for this purpose are fully described and illustrated in the Appendix (see page 18). Where the approriate signal can be given effectively by a suitable mechanical or electrical device there is no objection to its use]

Keep a sharp look out for signals by persons regulating traffic and for traffic signs and signals.

[It is an offence under the Road Traffic Act to fail to conform to the directions of a police constable when engaged in the regulation of traffic or to any direction given by a light signal or other traffic sign where special arrangements for the regulation of traffic are in force. The signals to be given by police constables are illustrated and described in the Appendix (see Page 15).]

OVERTAKING.

Never overtake unless you can see sufficiently far ahead to do so with safety. Remember that the brow of a steep hill or a hump-backed bridge is as dangerous as a sharp bend because it conceals oncoming traffic.

Do not overtake at cross roads or road junctions except when there is some system of control in operation such as a "roundabout" which makes it possible for you to do so with safety.

When you decide to overtake other traffic sound your horn unless you are satisfied that such a precaution is unnecessary.

After overtaking go back to the left side of the road, but not before you can do this without inconvenience to the person overtaken.

Do not cut in. Remember the right-hand side of the road belongs first to on-coming traffic. Never overtake, therefore, unless it is clear that you can pass and get back to the left side of the road again without making either the person overtaken, or a person approaching from the opposite direction, check speed or alter direction suddenly.

When being overtaken by another driver try to help and not to hinder. Never accelerate at such a moment. Keep well to the left and if the road is clear signal him on. Such a signal does not absolve the overtaking driver from the duty of satisfying himself that he can overtake with safety.

Subject to any local provisions to the contrary, tramcars may be overtaken on either side. Before you overtake a tramcar which is about to stop or is stationary, watch carefully to see if passengers are intending to board or alight. Go slowly or stop as the circumstances require.

CORNERS AND BENDS.

Take special care at corners and bends to leave ample room for on-coming traffic.

CROSS ROADS AND ROAD JUNCTIONS.

No vehicle has a "right of way" at cross roads, but it is the duty of a driver on a minor road when approaching a major road to go dead slow and to give way to traffic on it. Nevertheless when you are driving on a major road always keep a sharp look out and drive cautiously at cross roads and road junctions.

COUNTRY LANES.

Go slow in narrow country lanes however familiar the road may be to you. Blind corners, hidden drives, cattle or other obstructions may at any moment offer unexpected dangers.

WHITE LINES.

Look out for "white lines" on the road and carefully follow the indications they give, even when the road appears to be clear.

CONVOYS.

When you are a driver in a convoy or the driver of one of a series of large slow moving vehicles or of a motor coach joining up with other motor coaches, do not drive your vehicle close behind another. Leave ample space between the vehicles to allow faster traffic after overtaking one vehicle to draw in to the left if necessary before overtaking the next.

OBSTRUCTION.

No vehicle should be left standing on a highway for a longer time than is reasonable in the circumstances.

Do not leave your vehicle at a standstill in such a position as to cause inconvenience to residents or to other users of the road. Draw in your vehicle close to the kerb and do not stop where the road space is already restricted by standing vehicles, road repairs or other obstructions.

It is an offence to leave a vehicle in such a position as to cause obstruction.

[It is also an offence under the Road Traffic Act to leave a vehicle in a position or in a condition or in circumstances likely to be dangerous]

Do not pull up alongside a constable on point duty in order to ask him a question which other people could answer. His full attention is required for his duties.

If you are the driver of a slow moving vehicle keep well to the left of the road.

LIGHTS.

Do not use your headlights unnecessarily and in particular do not leave your vehicle standing at night with its headlights on. Side lights are sufficient.

Headlights may also with advantage be switched off or dipped when following another vehicle which you do not intend to pass.

Avoid leaving your vehicle at night facing the wrong way unless the road is sufficiently well lighted to prevent other users of the road being misled.

During the day time in foggy weather turn on your side and tail lights.

TURNING ROUND

Do not attempt to turn a vehicle round, especially if this involves more than one movement, unless you can see that the road is clear for a good distance in both directions. It is generally simpler to go to the nearest side road or entrance, back into it and then retrace your way. In this case always back into the minor road or entrance and come forward into the major road.

MOTOR HORNS.

Remember that your horn is intended to be used as a warning and an indication, if needed, of your presence on the road; it should not be used as a threat.

Sound your horn when approaching a danger pointor when about to overtake, unless you are satisfied that such a precaution is unnecessary. Do not take it for granted that your warning has been heard: in no circumstances can the sounding of a horn excuse a driver from taking every other precaution to avoid an accident.

Motor horns should not be used unnecessarily, and always with consideration for others, and especially for those in charge of animals. They should never be used to show annoyance or impatience.

[It is an offence under the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations to sound a horn when the vehicle is stationary, except when necessary on grounds of safety.]

SPECIAL DUTIES TOWARDS, PEDESTRIANS, CYCLISTS AND ANIMALS.

Respect the rights of pedestrians. Aged or infirm people and young children and those in charge of them call for your special courtesy.

Take special care not to endanger children. Remember that they are likely to dash into the road unexpectedly. Look out for school signs.

When passing or overtaking pedestrians, cyclists or animals give them plenty of room. If the roads are wet or muddy try to avoid splashing them.

Show special consideration towards horses and horse-drawn vehicles.

Slow down or stop when requested or signalled to do so by those in charge of horses or other animals which may become frightened or restive on your approach. Be ready to stop when meeting a flock of sheep or a herd of cattle or a pack of hounds.

Remember that you must be prepared to meet pedestrians and also led animals on your side of the road.

TO MOTOR CYCLISTS.

THE small space you occupy, your capacity for high speed and your reluctance to stop dead may tempt you to "cut in" by threading your way between other vehicles. This is a frequent source of accidents.

The risks you take are not only risks to yourself but to other users of the road.

Be cautious and considerate rather than trust solely to your driving skill.

Sudden noisy acceleration is unnecessary and disturbing.

[It is an offence under the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations not to have an efficient silencer or to use a vehicle in such a way as to cause any excessive noise which could, with reasonable care, be avoided.]

Remember that as a motor cyclist the same rules apply to you as to the driver of a car.

Make no attempt to gain a forward position in a traffic block by means of the narrow spaces between stationary vehicles. They may start suddenly, and you will impede them and endanger yourself.

TO THE DRIVERS OF HORSE-DRAWN VEHICLES.

WITH obvious exceptions and necessary changes the above rules for motor vehicles also apply to Horse—drawn vehicles.

Study and observe them and pay special attention to the rules headed "SIGNALS," "OVERTAKING," "WHITE LINES," "CONVOYS," "OBSTRUCTION," and "LIGHTS" (so far as applicable).

Remember that you are slow moving and should therefore keep well to the left of the road. You may be the cause of serious obstruction or even danger unless you observe strictly the rules and courtesies of the road.


TO PERSONS IN CHARGE OF ANIMALS.

GENERAL

KEEP the road as clear as possible for other traffic, and make use of grass and other verges where available, unless their use is prohibited.

SIGNALS.

When wishing to cross a road or to change direction (especially when turning to the right) select a favourable opportunity and show your intention by some appropriate signal.

ATTENDANTS

If you are in charge of led animals, whether walking or riding, place yourself so as to be between them and passing or overtaking traffic.

If you are in charge of animals and have a man available, send him forward to warn traffic when you are approaching a corner or coming out of a gateway.

TO PEDAL CYCLISTS.

GENERAL.

CERTAIN of the rules for drivers of motor vehicles set out above also apply with some slight modification to pedal cyclists.

Study and observe them, and pay special attention to the rules headed "SPEED," "SIGNALS," "OVERTAKING," "CROSS ROADS," and "WHITE LINES."

Give warning of your approach whenever necessary.

RIDING ABREAST.

Do not ride more than two abreast.

Make the passage of other traffic wishing to overtake you easier by getting into single file except on very broad roads.

STEADINESS.

Do not wobble about the road but ride as steadily as possible.

HANGING ON.

Do not ride close behind fast moving vehicles; leave enough space to allow for their slowing down or stopping suddenly.

[It is an offence under the Road Traffic Act without lawful authority or reasonable cause to take hold of a motor vehicle for the purpose of being towed.] TRAFFIC BLOCKS.

Do not hold on to a motor vehicle even when it is stationary where traffic is held up. Make no attempt to gain a forward position in a traffic block by cycling along the narrow spaces between stationary vehicles. They may start suddenly and you will impede them and endanger yourself.

AT NIGHT.

Remember that in the dark you are not easily visible to following traffic. Act accordingly and keep well to the left of the road.

If you do not use a red rear lamp remember to keep your red reflector clean and properly fixed.

[It is an offence under the Road Transport Lighting Act to ride at night without either a red rear lamp or an unobscured and efficient red reflector.]

SPECIAL DUTIES TOWARDS PEDESTRIANS AND ANIMALS.

Respect the rights of pedestrians. Aged or infirm people and young children and those In charge of them call for your special courtesy.

Take special care not to endanger children. Remember that they are likely to dash into the road unexpectedly. Look out for school signs.

When passing or overtaking pedestrians or animals give them plenty of room.

Show special consideration towards horses and horse-drawn vehicles.

TO PEDESTRIANS.

CROSSING ROADS.

Before crossing a road look right and left and satisfy yourself that it is safe to cross. Look out for approaching traffic and take its speed into account. Cross the road as directly as possible.

When stepping off the footpath look towards oncoming traffic.

Do not make a sudden dash into the carriageway.

Take special care if you have to step out from behind or in front of vehicles or other obstructions which prevent a clear view of traffic.

At road junctions where the traffic is controlled by police or signals, take advantage of that control and cross when the appropriate line of traffic is held up.

The use of subways, islands or special crossing places, (especially those marked "PLEASE CROSS HERE") will help you to avoid danger and assist in the easy flow of traffic.

SIGNALS Get to know the signals used by the drivers of vehicles and by persons regulating traffic. They will help you to decide upon your own movements.

STANDING AT CORNERS. Do not stand about in the road, especially in groups, at blind corners or other dangerous places where your presence may cause danger either of itself or by obscuring the line of vision of drivers.

DOGS. Keep your dog on the lead when walking along roads where traffic is heavy. A dog running loose in traffic is a danger to itself and to everyone else. APPENDIX.

TRAFFIC SIGNALS THAT EVERY ROAD USER SHOULD KNOW.

PART I.

SIGNALS TO BE GIVEN BY POLICE
CONSTABLES AND OTHERS ENGAGED IN
THE REGULATION OF TRAFFIC.

THE following signals are those officially recommended and are intended to cover the ordinary situations which arise in traffic control, but other signals may be required for abnormal situations or owing to the peculiar lay–out of particular road junctions.

Drivers should note that once they have been stopped the constable may lower his hand or use it for giving other signals. They should not move on until the constable signals to them to do so.

Signals Nos. 1 to 4 are specially illustrated to show how, in a simple instance, they appear to the drivers for whom they are intended. It makes no difference if, as will often happen, the constable’s other arm is engaged in making another signal.

An illustration is also given of "Stop" Signals Nos. 1 and 2 combined. Other signals may also be used incombination such as "Stop" Signal No. 1 or No. 2 and "Proceed" Signal No. 4.

Drivers should be specially careful to distinguish the "Proceed" signal intended for them from those intended for other traffic. This will be shown primarily by the constable looking in their direction. In particular, they should note that no "Proceed" signal applies to a driver towards whom the constable's back is turned.

"Proceed" Signals are used not only to bring on vehicles which have been stopped, but also to indicate to approaching vehicles that their way is clear.

No. 1. To STOP a vehicle approaching from his front or from either side, the constable faces squarely towards it and extends his right arm and hand at full length above the right shoulder, with the palm of the hand towards the vehicle.

No. 2. To STOP a vehicle approaching from behind, the constable extends his left arm horizontally from the shoulder, and holds it rigid with the back of the hand towards the vehicle.

The Highway Code 1931 018 StopSignal 1.png

"Stop" Signal No. 1
as viewed by the driver for whom it is intended.

The Highway Code 1931 018 StopSignal 2.png

"Stop" Signal No. 2
as viewed by the driver for whom it is intended.

Nos. 1 and 2 combined. To STOP vehicles approaching from his front and from behind simultaneously the constable combines Signals Nos. 1 and 2 (above).

The Highway Code 1931 018 CombinedStopSignal 1and2.png

Combined "Stop" Signals Nos. 1 and 2.

No. 3. To BRING ON a vehicle from his front, the constable looks towards the driver and beckons him on with the right hand and forearm, which should be raised well above the shoulder.

The Highway Code 1931 019 ProceedSignal 3.png

"Proceed" Signal No. 3
as viewed by the driver for whom it is intended.

No. 4. To BRING ON vehicles from his right or left, the constable looks towards the driver for whom the signal is intended, and beckons him on with the right (or left) hand and forearm, which should be raised well above the shoulder.


The Highway Code 1931 019 ProceedSignal 4.png

"Proceed" Signal No. 4
as viewed by the driver for whom they are intended.


Note that the constable does not turn his body, because he may be holding up vehicles in front of him and behind him.

PART II.

SIGNALS TO BE GIVEN BY DRIVERS.

(a) SIGNALS TO DRIVERS OF OTHER VEHICLES.

No. 1. "I am going to SLOW DOWN, or STOP, or TURN to my LEFT."



The Highway Code 1931 020 Signal 1.pngNo. 1.Extend the right arm with the palm of the hand turned downwards, and move the arm slowly up and down, and move the arm slowly up and down, keeping the wrist loose.

No. 2. "I am going to TURN to my RIGHT."

(This signal may be used in any circumstances when it may be necessary to convey the warning "It is DANGEROUS to OVERTAKE me on my RIGHT").


The Highway Code 1931 020 Signal 2.pngNo. 2.Extend the right arm and hand, with the palm turned to the front, and hold them rigid in a horizontal position straight out from the off side of the vehicle.

No. 3." You may OVERTAKE me on my RIGHT."

(This signal should only be given when it is safe for the overtaking vehicle to pass. The overtaking driver is not absolved thereby from the duty of satisfying himself that he can overtake with safety.)


The Highway Code 1931 021 Signal 3.pngNo. 3.Extend the right arm and hand below the level of the shoulder and move them backwards and forwards.

The drivers of HORSE-DRAWN vehicles should preferably use the three foregoing signals, giving them where possible by hand alone, and in any case keeping the whip (if any) clear of other traffic.


The Highway Code 1931 021 Signal 4.pngNo. 4. Alternatively, the following signals may be used :—

No. 4. "I am going to STOP."


Raise the whip vertically with the arm extended above the right shoulder.

The Highway Code 1931 022 Signal 5.pngNo. 5

No.5. "I am going to TURN."


Rotate the whip above the head; then incline the whip to the right or left to show the direction in which the turn is to be made.

(b) SIGNALS BY DRIVERS TO POLICE CONSTABLES.

When approaching a police constable engaged in the regulation of traffic, drivers of all vehicles should whenever possible indicate to him by means of one of the following signals the direction in which they wish to proceed. The signals are shown in the diagrams as being given with the fight hand, but Signals Nos. 6 and 7 may be given with the left hand if more convenient.

No. 6. "I want to go STRAIGHT AHEAD."

The Highway Code 1931 022 Signal 6.png

No. 6

Raise the hand towards the shoulder and move the forearm well forwards and then back in a vertical plane, making the movement sufficiently pronounced to be easily seen by the constable.

No. 7. "I want to TURN to my LEFT."


The Highway Code 1931 023 Signal 7.pngNo. 7 Point the hand to the left, making the movement sufficiently pronounced to be easily seen by the constable.



No. 8. "I Want to TURN to my RIGHT."


The Highway Code 1931 023 Signal 8.pngNo. 8Use Signal No.2.


This work is in the public domain worldwide because the work was created by a public body of the United Kingdom with Crown Status and commercially published before 1969.

See Crown copyright artistic works, Crown copyright non-artistic works and List of Public Bodies with Crown Status.