New changes to the Highway Code will give pedestrians greater priority over cars at junctions and crossings
Topic starter 31/07/2021 8:57 AM
New changes to the Highway Code will give pedestrians greater priority over cars at junctions and crossings, the transport secretary has announced.
Motoring groups today warned new Highway Code rules that will give cyclists priority over motorists at junctions when travelling straight ahead could cause 'confusion' that will lead to 'avoidable collisions'.
The proposed change set to cause the most issues is a new rule saying motorists should give way to pedestrians about to cross at junctions.
Under the current Code - which will be replaced next year if the new rules are approved - drivers only have to give way if the pedestrian has started to cross.
Also in the new Code, cyclists have been told to 'ride in the centre of your lane to make yourself as clearly visible as possible' when on quiet roads or streets - but if a faster vehicle comes up behind, move in to let them overtake.
The new Code will also say that motorists should give way to people waiting to cross a zebra crossing or parallel crossing. At the moment, the pedestrian only has priority if they have already stepped onto the crossing - with the Code currently telling drivers to 'look out for pedestrians waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop'.
Drivers will also now be given a specific duty to ensure people on bicycles are safe, while those on two wheels in turn will be told to look out for pedestrians, as part of the new rules announced by the Department for Transport.
A new 'hierarchy of road users' will also outline how responsibility rests with those who could potentially cause the most harm to others - with pedestrians ahead of cyclists, then horse riders, then motorcyclists, then drivers. This means the presumption of blame for accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians is likely to fall on motorists.
But the RAC warned that a 'concerted effort' must now be made to communicate the changes to drivers because 'many do not read the Highway Code for long periods after passing their test', adding that it was vital for everyone using the roads to understand the new rules 'because any confusion is likely to lead to avoidable collisions'.
And Hugh Bladen, from the Alliance of British Drivers, criticised the Government for 'making a complete Horlicks of the situation' and it was a 'retrograde step' that will lead to confusion. Howard Cox from the FairFuel UK group added: 'This anti-car government continues to pander to a massive minority of non tax paying road users.'
The new Code - which will be presented to Parliament this winter and come into force early next year if it is approved - states that at a junction, motorists 'should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning'.
Drivers should also 'give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing'. The new Code also states that motorists 'should not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane'.
The changes are part of a new cycling and walking strategy to be unveiled today by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who will announce a £338million package to boost both across the country.
British former racing cyclist Chris Boardman described the changes as 'inspiringly logical action' and said they was a 'real milestone for active travel', while British Cycling called them a 'cause for celebration'.
Cycling UK also praised the changes, saying that 'rules which place greater responsibility on people driving larger vehicles are long overdue', while the London Cycling Campaign said it was 'progress, without a doubt'.
Photo - Daily Mail