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In January 2022 significant changes to the Highway Code were introduced, with a particular focus on the protection of vulnerable road users.
As we approach the second anniversary of the changes to the Code and ahead of Road Safety Week starting on 19 November, I thought it an opportune time to explore the key areas of the changed Code. After all, at the time of the changes a You Gov poll found that one in seven people had no idea that the Code was changing. While Cyling UK found that by January 2023 most drivers could still not identify the changes.
Why did the Code change?
In a continuous effort to improve road safety and accommodate the diverse users of our highways, the revisions to the Highway Code placed a heightened emphasis on the protection of vulnerable road users. These changes reflect an evolving understanding of the various challenges faced by pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable individuals sharing the road with motorised vehicles.
The key changes were
One notable change involves a renewed emphasis on giving priority to pedestrians at junctions. Motorists are now explicitly instructed to give way to pedestrians waiting to cross the road, underscoring the importance of creating safer spaces for those on foot.
Recognising the increasing popularity of cycling, the updated Highway Code placed a stronger emphasis on the protection of cyclists. Motorists are advised to leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists, ensuring a safe distance and reducing the risk of accidents. The revised Code also highlights the importance of cyclist visibility, encouraging the use of lights and reflective gear.
Safer Spaces for Vulnerable Road Users
The revised Code introduced measures to create safer spaces for vulnerable road users. This includes the implementation of safer pedestrian crossings, improved signage, and enhanced road layouts that considers the needs of all users. Such changes aimed to reduce the likelihood of accidents and enhance the overall safety of our roads.
Increased Penalties for Endangering Vulnerable Road Users
To deter reckless behaviour and enhance accountability, the revised Code introduces stricter penalties for drivers who endanger vulnerable road users. This includes harsher penalties for offenses such as close passes on cyclists or failure to yield to pedestrians. These penalties are designed to send a clear message about the importance of respecting the safety of all road users.
The changes to the Highway Code in 2022 represent a positive step forward in prioritising the safety of vulnerable road users.
By emphasising the rights and protection of pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users, these revisions aim to create a more inclusive and secure road environment for everyone.
Through my work those I represent following a road accident are often left traumatised by what’s happened and how their lives have changed through no fault of their own. They require specialist legal advice to either access the specialist rehabilitation and therapies they require to try and regain as much of their independence as possible or to access support they need to come to terms with their loss.
Therefore, the key is to ensure continued, and improved, awareness of the positive steps for change included in the Highway Code to make our roads safer.
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in helping people affected by road collisions and their families at our dedicated road traffic accidents section.