Although currently awaiting parliamentary approval, changesto the Highway Code are anticipated to be implemented at the start of 2022.These adjustments are set to introduce a ‘hierarchy of road users’ designed toprioritise more vulnerable traffic participants including cyclists andpedestrians.
As part of the £338 million Government package designed toincrease active travel across the UK, the changes come as a result of researchconducted by Venson Automotive Solutions. The study’s findings show that asignificant number of people have limited knowledge of the current Highway Code,citing that only 27% of drivers know that vehicles are only required to stop atzebra crossings if pedestrians are already on the crossing.
If the proposed changes are implemented, one of the newrules will require drivers to give pedestrians greater priority by stopping togive way to those waiting to cross, as well as those already in the process ofcrossing. Another new rule set to be brought in would require cyclists to moveinto a single file line to allow vehicles to pass.
Both of these suggested amendments have been popular. Whenconducting a survey, Venson found that 74% of respondents thought it would be agood change to give way to an increased number of pedestrians at zebra crossings,while 60% agreed with the suggestion that cyclists should move into single fileto allow vehicles to pass.
Of the proposed new rules, the least popular suggestion wasone that would allow cyclists to pass slower moving vehicles on either side, includingwhen approaching junctions, which just 26% of respondents supported.
Further results of the Venson Automotive Solutions Survey intothe new changes showed that 51% of respondents felt that at a junction youshould give way to pedestrians crossing, or waiting to cross, a road which youare either turning into or out of. Equally, 47% felt that drivers shouldn’twave or use their horns to invite pedestrians or cyclists to cross as thiscould be dangerous or cause further problems if another vehicle is approaching.
When reflecting on the survey results and the suggestedchanges, Alison Bell, marketing director at Venson Automotive Solutions said “Knowingthe Highway Code is essential in making our roads safer places.
“However, there is clearly confusion about what is and isn’tlaw.”
She continued: “Depending on the severity, and whether ornot the rules are legal requirements, breaking the rules of the Highway Code couldlead to prosecution, points on your licence, fines or even a custodialsentence.
“Generally, if a rule states something ‘must’ or 'must not’be done it is backed up by law and pleading ignorance is no excuse. Learningthe existing and incoming rules deserves every driver’s time.
“However, for businesses operating a fleet of vehicles it’sespecially the case, as they have a duty of care to ensure company drivers areaware of their responsibilities, and the upcoming changes to the rules –whether they agree with them or not.”
While there will surely be pros and cons to any amendmentsor additions to the Highway Code, it is hoped that the research conducted intothe current rules and the proposed changes will raise the awareness of all roadusers about what is and isn’t legal and encourage them to be mindful ahead ofany official changes being made.