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Key Highway Code Changes Being Ignored: A Reminder for UK Drivers

by | Jun 14, 2024 | Articles, Driving Offence Advice

Drivers are being reminded about important changes to the Highway Code that could lead to prosecution simply for turning into a road. Recent statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT) have shown an increase in pedestrian deaths in the UK.

In 2023, 407 pedestrians were killed, up from 385 in 2022 – a 6% increase. Experts from Select Car Leasing have issued an urgent warning regarding road rules to ensure pedestrian safety.

Highway Code Changes in 2022

In 2022, the Highway Code was amended to enhance the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and horse riders. The changes introduced a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users,’ prioritising those most at risk. A key rule for motorists and cyclists is that when pedestrians are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic must always give way.

Mr Conway, Managing Director at Select Car Leasing, explains:

“If you’re a motorist about to turn into a junction, and a pedestrian is either already crossing the road or is WAITING to cross, you need to give way and let them complete their journey. It’s a crucial element of the Highway Code that is still misunderstood more than two years after it was implemented.”

He continues:

“Spend time online and you’ll see some motorists complaining that pedestrian behaviours are getting worse and that they are prone to ‘just walking into the road’ without regard for their own safety. But this opinion could be coloured by the fact that some motorists still don’t understand how pedestrians should be protected by the Highway Code.”

Legal Implications of Highway Code Changes

If a motorist attempts to turn into the path of a pedestrian, they could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention. This offence carries a fine of up to £2,500 and between 3 and 9 penalty points.

Specific Rules for Junctions

The Highway Code clearly states:

“When people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should give way. If people have started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, the people crossing have priority and the traffic should give way.”

Mr Conway adds:

“If you’re a driver who ends up remonstrating with a pedestrian who is in the middle of a road that you’re trying to turn into, chances are you’re very much in the wrong and the pedestrian is behaving correctly. And it’s crucial that motorists’ attitudes towards pedestrians are aligned with the Highway Code if we’re going to improve those dreadful fatality statistics.”

Cyclists and the Highway Code

The rules prioritising pedestrians also apply to cyclists. Cyclists, like motorists, must allow pedestrians to cross the road before continuing. The Highway Code states:

“People driving, riding a motorcycle or cycling must give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing.”

A parallel crossing is similar to a zebra crossing but includes a cycle route alongside the black and white stripes.

Public Awareness and Compliance

An RAC poll conducted at the beginning of 2024 revealed that many UK drivers still ignore the Highway Code changes protecting pedestrians. Out of 2,500 motorists surveyed, less than a quarter (23%) claimed to ‘always give priority to pedestrians at junctions,’ while 6% admitted they never give way to pedestrians in such situations.

In Conclusion

Understanding and complying with these Highway Code changes is essential for reducing pedestrian fatalities and improving road safety. Motorists and cyclists alike must adapt their behaviours to ensure the safety of all road users. As a motorists on UK roads, it is important to be aware of the Highway Code and any changes that are made to it.

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