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Changes to The Highway Code - one year on

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It has been a year since the government made changes to The Highway Code, introducing a new hierarchy of road users to protect the most vulnerable (pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists etc.) and put responsibility on to the drivers of quicker and heavier modes of transport. But, are people up to date and aware of the new rules, and what impact are they having?

One of the changes made was that a stronger priority is now given to pedestrians at a junction, whether they are crossing the road or waiting to cross. It is not only vehicle drivers who should give way to pedestrians but also horse riders and horse drawn vehicles. Priority should also be given to pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing. We wonder whether, 12 months on, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users are noticing an improvement?

A YouGov poll commissioned by the charity Cycling UK indicated there has been no discernible difference in the awareness of vehicle drivers providing the correct distance for overtaking, for example.

Unfortunately many road users seem to be unaware of the changes introduced last year, including the new hierarchy of road users, as demonstrated by the survey carried out for Cycling UK. A quarter of adults that took part stated they knew nothing at all about the amendments, and only 30% of drivers that drive at least once a week had some awareness of the update and could correctly identify the overtaking guidance.

It may be too early to see any difference in casualties caused by road traffic collisions due to this potentially dangerous situation, whereby vulnerable road users are now expecting to have priority on the roads but drivers aren’t necessarily aware that they are required to give such priority. The data on this will not be released until later on in the year but, even then, it may be difficult to obtain any definitive figures as it will be difficult to determine how many collisions could have been avoided if the new guidance had been more widely publicised and acknowledged.

Have you noticed any difference while out walking or riding? If you have been unfortunate enough to be injured by a vehicle as a pedestrian, motorcyclist, cyclist or horse rider you can call our personal injury specialists on 0161 696 6235 who will be happy to discuss your potential claim.

By Donna Wilkes, new business advisor