There is no doubt that better protection for more vulnerable road users has been long overdue and the changes in the Highway Code will go some way to close that gap. There has been much debate since the announcement of these rule changes as to whether they now go too far the other way.
In motoring law terms, there could be more of a marked difference between how the courts deal with different road users who commit the same offence. The test for careless driving, for example, is to consider whether the standard of driving has fallen below that of a competent and careful driver.
We may now see a clearer distinction between how a motorcyclist’s driving is assessed compared to that of a HGV driver given their different positions in the new ‘hierarchy of road users’. There is already a distinction within the sentencing guidelines for offences of this type for those driving heavier, more dangerous vehicles. It may be that the new structured hierarchy sees the need for new, more structured sentencing guidelines.
In the immediate term, however, there still appears to be an uncertainty surrounding how these new rule changes will be acted on by road users and how they will be enforced by authorities. The concern is whether motorists and other road users are aware of these new rules and what they mean. Whilst the volume has been gradually turned up, I’m still unsure whether the message is actually being heard. Without better education and awareness, we could see swathes of motorists breaking the law and with that an inconsistency in knowledge from one road user to another, and potentially even a short term increase in accidents.
For more information about the rules changes please the following link:
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