Highway Code amendments to make lorry drivers more liable for accidents

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Highway Code amendments to make lorry drivers more liable for accidents

Numerous amendments to the Highway Code proposed by the UK’s Department For Transport have raised serious concerns in the transport industry. The new rules mean truck drivers have more liability in the event of a collision.

The Ministry of Transport has proposed three key changes to the Highway Code:

  • all drivers must give priority to pedestrians passing or waiting to pass,
  • cyclists have priority at crossroads when going straight,
  • the introduction of a hierarchy of road users.

In the proposed hierarchy of road users, the highest position is taken by pedestrians, followed by cyclists, motorcyclists, passenger car drivers and van drivers; truck drivers are ranked at the lowest level. This means that truckers have a greater responsibility towards road users who are higher up the hierarchy, that is to say, basically everyone else.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has expressed concern about the aforementioned changes, describing some of the proposals as dangerous and irresponsible. In its official communication, the RHA called for participation in an ongoing public consultation on the proposed legislation, which will run until 27 October this year.

These changes would undermine the simple principle that when using roads, we are all responsible for our own safety and that of all other users. In our view, this responsibility translates into legal responsibility,” claims the organisation.

Transport industry representatives belonging to RHA see no reason to place the greatest responsibility on the driver of the largest vehicle.

Why should some road users have less responsibilities and obligations than others?,” asks the association.

Moreover, according to RHA, the proposed legislation could prove dangerous in practice. According to the new rules, drivers and motorcyclists should not turn at a crossroads if this would force a cyclist going straight-on to stop. This means that if a truck driver wanted to turn left, he would have to give way to a cyclist coming from behind. According to the RHA, this creates a dangerous situation for the cyclist and makes the truck driver legally responsible.

Photo credit @ Pixabay

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