What is The Highway Code and why do I need to know it?
The Highway Code is a set of information, guides, advice, and mandatory rules for all road users in the United Kingdom and on 29th January 2022, major changes came into force. The Highway Code is therefore essential reading for everyone as it is not just limited to those who drive, but includes pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders, even those who use a mobility scooter.
Is The Highway Code law?
The Highway Code is not “The Law” but it does include legal requirements. In total there are 307 regulations and road users who chose to ignore certain guidance could find themselves fined, prosecuted, or disqualified from driving. Furthermore, failure to comply with the code can be used to establish liability in relation to personal injury cases.
What are the new changes?
The most notable change is the risk-based hierarchy of road users which seeks to provide protection to the most vulnerable road users on the road by placing more responsibility on those that can cause the most harm. The hierarchy is as follows:
It’s important to note that all road users are still expected to behave responsibly regardless of their position in the hierarchy.
Priority is given to pedestrians waiting at junctions, this was rather controversial when first announced, as many argued that this would lead to an increase in accidents.
Drivers are also required to give way to a pedestrian who is waiting to cross the road when they are turning into a junction as well as drivers, cyclists and horse riders having to give way to pedestrians waiting at zebra crossings.
Priority has also been given to cyclists and equestrians when cars are turning. A driver should not turn in a way that cuts across a cyclist right of way.
Drivers need to leave adequate gaps when over taking cyclists, 1.5 meters is recommended when overtaking a cyclist at no more than 30 miles per hour. If travelling at faster speeds the driver is responsible for leaving a bigger gap. Cyclists have also been permitted to drive in the middle of the road in certain circumstances to make them more visible.
A new safer method for drivers to use when exiting their vehicle has been created to reduce the risk of collision, known as ‘The Dutch Reach’ by encouraging the person to use the hand furthest away from the door.
Why are the changes significant and what does this mean for personal injury?
The new rules alter road users’ responsibility therefore it is important to make sure you are informed of the changes as this could be used in approach to establishing liability in road traffic collisions.
Hopefully, these changes will help reduce the number of injuries suffered on the UK’s roads but if you find yourself in a road traffic accident, we can provide legal assistance.
Please contact Richard Harriman on 01494 521301.