Changes to the Highway Code designed to make pedestrians safer on the UK’s roads have not had the desired effect, according to the results of a new survey.

The RAC poll reveals the safety concerns, finding that 31% of drivers believe pedestrians are in greater danger at junctions than they were before the changes were introduced in 2022. One of the key changes made it mandatory for drivers turning into or out of junctions to give way to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders who were either crossing or preparing to cross the road.  

Over half of the drivers (51%) surveyed said that they were unsure how effective the new rules had been, and only 18% believed that pedestrian safety had improved. In the scenario above, which Highway Code Rule 170 addresses, only 2% of people who responded felt that when they were using the road network as pedestrians, they saw drivers stop all the time, while 65% said that drivers rarely or ever stop in this situation.

“When initially introduced, we welcomed the major Highway Code changes because they were set to make the roads much safer for the most vulnerable users”, said Rod Dennis, road safety spokesperson for the RAC.

“However, two years on, it’s concerning to see there’s still so much uncertainty, with most drivers not stopping for people crossing when they should and therefore many pedestrians seeing no change to their safety at junctions.”

“It’s interesting that when respondents described their experiences as pedestrians, a high proportion still don’t see enough other drivers doing the right thing and giving way to those on foot at junctions. Conversely, when reflecting on their own actions as drivers, their responses were different, and a higher proportion feel confident they always let pedestrians cross.”

“Part of the reason may be that drivers simply don’t know that the changes have been made, least of all the consequences of ignoring them”, said Mr Dennis.

The RAC is calling on the government to do more to raise awareness among road users of the changes to the Highway Code.