Do They Know The New Highway Code?

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Alarming research from Slater and Gordon shows more than half of drivers are unaware cyclists now have priority on the road in changes to the highway code

Significant changes to the Highway Code are set to be introduced at the end of the month in a bid to help safeguard cyclists and failure to comply could land motorists with increased fines. Worryingly, according to recent research from leading consumer legal services company, Slater and Gordon (S+G), more than half of drivers (56%) failed to correctly identify what the new rules were, leaving more vulnerable road users at risk of serious injury.

The driving law changes, which will be introduced on 29th January 2022, see vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, take priority over vehicle users for the first time. Under the latest changes, drivers will have to give priority to cyclists, pedestrians, motorbike users and horse riders who are waiting to cross a road the driver wishes to turn into.

Do They Know The Highway Code?
Do They Know The Highway Code?

Additional rules include:

  • All traffic must stop for pedestrians waiting to cross
  • Cars indicating to turn left or right must give way to cyclists coming from behind and going straight on
  • Cyclists can ride wherever they feel safest, even if that is in the middle of the road
  • Drivers must wait for cyclists to pass and treat as if the cyclist is a motor vehicle
  • Poor driving decisions are more punishable with local authorities able to prosecute driving in box junctions and failure to give way

Under the new hierarchy of road users, pedestrians are placed at the top, followed by cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists and cars. Vans, HGVs and buses find themselves at the bottom of the list.

Alarmingly, S+G research shows that only 44% of people are aware that the rules are changing.

For those aware of the changes, two in five drivers (39%) said they would turn into the road as they believe it is their right of way, meaning they would be liable in the event of an accident. Almost one in five (18%) believe that under the new rules, pedestrians are to be placed at the bottom of the hierarchy. This however comes as no surprise as 23% admit to not having looked at the Highway Code in at least a decade.

Tracey Benson, Head of Serious Injury at Slater and Gordon, said: “The changes to the Highway Code help to protect all road users by granting the most priority to the most vulnerable users. As pedestrians are more likely to suffer serious injury, they are now placed at the top.” 

“The changes together with the fines it is hoped will raise awareness and lead to a decrease in serious injuries and fatalities on our roads. The increased danger comes from a lack of awareness of these significant changes. It is crucial all road users educate themselves about the new hierarchy and how they now need to conduct themselves whilst using the road. Failure to do so could quickly result in a driving ban and significant fines, never mind injuries to other road users. It’s essential to stay up to date with the Highway Code, no matter how long you’ve been driving and not to be complacent.”  

*Research was conducted with more than 1,000 UK (United Kingdom) residents in January 2022 and was conducted by third party, accredited resource, Censuswide.

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