New British Highway Code makes “some road users responsible for others' behaviour”

Proposed changes in the British Highway Code will give pedestrians priority over cars and others vehicles at zebra crossings and junctions, the transport secretary announced last week. The RHA says the proposed changes will make some road users responsible for others' behaviour, which is wrong.

New British Highway Code makes “some road users responsible for others' behaviour”
Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@orangetiephotography?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Joshua Lawrence</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/lorry-cyclist?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

The Department for Transport (DfT) announced changes to the Highway Code last week. These novelties include a “hierarchy of road users” that ensures those who can do the greatest harm, such as those in vehicles, have the “greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others”.

The announcement came as part of a £338 million package to boost cycling and walking across the country.

The new version of the Highway Code will include:

  • a hierarchy of road users that ensures road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger they may pose to others;
  • strengthened pedestrian priority on pavements and when crossing or waiting to cross the road;
  • guidance on safe passing distances and speeds and ensuring that cyclists have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.

The increased funding aims to encourage the public to make “sustainable travel choices” to make “air cleaner and cities greener”.

The DfT said the investment would also be used to cover infrastructure upgrades such as the construction of hundreds of miles of new cycle lanes.

The RHA says changes will encourage “a known unsafe manoeuvre by cyclists”

The announcement hasn’t been welcomed by the Road Haulage Association, which says the proposed changes will encourage a known unsafe manoeuvre by cyclists who are then absolved of responsibility for their actions towards motorists.

“Making a driver (motorist or commercial vehicle Driver) who has no control over how a cyclist is trained to use the roads responsible for the safety of others is inherently unjust. The rules around pedestrian priority make sense, the change for cyclists increases road danger and collision risk” – said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett. – “The hierarchy of risk created by the operation of cars, vans, coaches, buses and lorries is already reflected in the additional ongoing training undertaken by lorry and coach drivers.”


Photo by Joshua Lawrence on Unsplash

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