The road user and the law

Part of: The Highway Code, The Highway Code Annexes

Road traffic law - the following list can be found abbreviated throughout the Code. It is not intended to be a comprehensive guide, but an indicator as to some of the important points of law.

Traffic laws

For the precise wording of the law, please refer to the various Orders and Regulations (as amended) indicated in the Code.

Most of the provisions apply on all roads throughout Northern Ireland.

A road includes a public road, any part of a public road and any bridges or tunnels over or through which a public road passes, and any street, carriageway, highway or roadway to which the public has access (RTO 1995 Art 2).

It is important to note that references to ‘road’ therefore generally include footways, footpaths, and cycle tracks and many roadways and driveways on private land (including many car parks).

In most cases, the law will apply to them and there may be additional rules for particular paths or ways.

Some serious driving offences, including drink-driving offences, also apply to all public places, for example public car parks.

  • Chronically Sick & Disabled Persons (NI) Act 1978 CSPDA
  • Criminal Justice (NI) Order 1994 CJO
  • Litter (NI) Order 1994 LO
  • Motor Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations (NI) 1999 CUR
  • Motor Vehicles (Construction & Use) (Amendment No.5) Regulations (NI) 2004 CU(A)R
  • Motor Vehicles (Construction & Use) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2005 CU(A)R
  • Horses (Protective Headgear for Young Riders) (NI) Order 1990 H(PHYR)O
  • Horses (Protective Headgear for Young Riders) Regulations (NI) 1992 H(PHYR)R
  • Motor Cycles (Eye Protectors) Regulations (NI) 2004 MC(EP)R
  • Motor Cycles (Protective Headgear) Regulations (NI) 1999 MC(PH)R
  • Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations (NI) 1996 MV(DL)R
  • Motor Vehicles Driving Licences (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2003 (4 sets of Regulations) MVDL(A)R
  • Motor Vehicles (Invalid Carriages) Regulations (NI) 1999 MV(IC)R
  • Motor Vehicles (Prescribed Restrictions) Regulations (NI) 1996 MV(PR)R
  • Motor Vehicles (Speed Limits) Regulations (NI) 1989 MV(SL)R
  • Motor Vehicles (Speed Limit Restriction) (Exemption) Regulations (NI) 1998 MV(SLRE)R
  • Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations (NI) 1993 MV(WSB)R
  • Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts by Children in Front Seats) Regulations (NI) 1993 and 2007 MV(WSBCFS)R
  • Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2007 and 2008 MV(WSB)(A)R
  • Motorways Traffic Regulations (NI) 2008 MTR
  • Road Traffic Act 1984, 1988 or 1991 (as indicated) RTA
  • Road Traffic (NI) Order 1981, 1995 or 2007 (as indicated) RTO
  • Road Traffic Offenders (NI) Order 1996 RTOO
  • Road Traffic Regulation (NI) Order 1997 RTRO
  • Road Vehicles Lighting (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 2007 RVL(A)R
  • Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (NI) 2000 RVLR
  • Road Vehicles (Registration & Licensing) Regulations 2002 RV(R&L)R
  • Road Traffic (New Drivers) (NI) Order 1998 RT(ND)O
  • Road Vehicles (Traffic) Regulations 1933 RV(T)R
  • Roads (NI) Order 1993 RO
  • Roads (Restriction of Waiting) Order (NI) 1982 R(RW)O
  • Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 RV(DRM)R
  • Smoking (NI) Order 2006 SO
  • Smoke-Free (Exemptions, Vehicles, Penalties & Discounted Amounts) Regulations (NI) 2007 SF(EVPDA)R
  • Traffic Management Act 2004 TMA
  • Traffic Signs Regulations (NI) 1997 TSR
  • Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 VERA
  • Zebra, Pelican & Puffin Pedestrian Crossing Regulations (NI) 2006 PCR

Orders and regulations from 1988 can be viewed on the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) website.

Orders and regulations prior to 1988 are only available in their original print format which can be obtained from The Stationery Office (TSO).

*Specific legislation applies to smoking in vehicles which constitute workplaces. For information, go to:

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