The rules of the road give drivers a ‘struggle’ as a Highway Code change approaches

The rules of the road give drivers a 'struggle' as a Highway Code change approaches

In early 2022, changes are expected to be made to the Highway Code which will introduce a ‘hierarchy of road users’, with more vulnerable users such as pedestrians and cyclists prioritised.

The move, which is part of a £338 million Government package to further boost active travel across the UK, comes as research carried out by Venson Automotive Solutions reveals a worrying number of people do not know enough of the current Highway Code.

The survey revealed just one in three drivers (27%) know that vehicles are only required to top at zebra crossings if pedestrians are already on the crossing. 

If approved by Parliament, the new changes will see that drivers will have to give pedestrians greater priority by stopping to give way to pedestrians waiting to cross as well as those already on the crossing. 74% of respondents agree this would be a good change.

Another popular new rule would require cyclists to move into single file to allow vehicles to pass – almost two-thirds (60%) of respondents agreed with this rule.

On the other end of the spectrum, a proposed new rule which would allow cyclists to pass slower moving vehicles on either side, including when approaching junctions, is proving to be an unpopular opinion. Just 26% agreed this rule should be brought in.

Alison Bell, marketing director at Venson Automotive Solutions, said: ““Knowing the Highway Code is essential in making our roads safer places, however there is clearly confusion about what is and isn’t law. 

“Take for example undertaking, there are circumstances where undertaking is necessary, such as a congested road, but only if it’s safe to do so.

“One cause of undertaking is middle-lane hogging, an offence in itself that’s punishable with an on the spot £100 fine and three penalty points.

“One of the new proposed changes in the law next year that’s likely to catch people is out, is using of the horn to invite pedestrians and cyclists to cross the road.”

She continued: “Depending on the severity, and whether or not the rules are legal requirements, breaking the rules of the Highway Code could lead to prosecution, points on your licence, fines or even a custodial sentence.

“Generally, if a rule states something ‘must’ or must not’ be done it is backed up by law and pleading ignorance is no excuse. Learning the existing and incoming rules deserves every driver’s time.

“However, for businesses operating a fleet of vehicles it’s especially the case, as they have a duty of care to ensure company drivers are aware of their responsibilities, and the upcoming changes to the rules – whether they agree with them or not.”

Venson Automotive Solutions Survey results:

Which of the following are true?

79% – It is illegal to overtake on the left of a vehicle on a motorway or dual carriage (FALSE)

45% – It is illegal to have the interior light on in your car whilst driving (FALSE)

35% – You must let bus drivers out at bus stops (FALSE)

29% – It’s okay to break the law to let an emergency vehicle past (FALSE)

53% – It is illegal to splash a pedestrian whilst driving through a puddle at the side of the road (TRUE – Road Traffic Act 1988)

27% – Traffic does not have to give way at a zebra crossing until a pedestrian has moved onto the crossing (TRUE – Highway Code rules 19 and 195)

New changes to the Highway Code are being proposed, including priorities at crossings and junctions and cyclists in relation to vehicles. Please tick all those you agree with.

74% – You should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing.

60% – Cyclists should ride in single file when drivers wish to overtake and it’s safe to let them do so. When riding in larger groups on narrow lanes, it’s sometimes safer to ride two abreast.

58% – Don’t turn at a junction if it causes a cyclist going straight ahead to stop or swerve.

51% – At a junction, you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you’re turning.

50% – You should remain behind cyclists and motorcyclists at junctions, even if they’re waiting to turn and are positioned close to the kerb.

47% – Don’t wave or use your horn to invite pedestrians or cyclists to cross; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching.

33% – When traffic lights are red and there is an advanced stop line, cyclists may cross the first stop line to position themselves in front of other traffic but mustn’t cross the final stop line.

26% – Cyclists may pass slower-moving or stationary traffic on the right or left, including at the approach to junctions.

5 thoughts on “The rules of the road give drivers a ‘struggle’ as a Highway Code change approaches”

  1. Alan Jamieson

    The only one I take issue with is being forced to stop at a zebra crossing. The reason drivers currently don’t is in the case where a following vehicle is likely to crash into the lead vehicle. If I’m about to get smashed up, I’m NOT stopping!
    Another rule written by amateurs with degrees coming out their ears!

  2. Paul E Found

    Most cyclists don’t take any notice of the highway code. Most people think that the highway code does not applies after they passed their tests. They should make it law that you must a cycling test and make the helmets and have lights and if they don’t have their bike crushed

  3. Patricia Isaac

    Unauthorised use of flashing headlights to invite drivers, pedestrians or cyclists to cross when it is not their priority is incredibly dangerous.

  4. Why are cyclists riding to cross a Zebra crossing? Should they not dismount and push the cycle across? Pedestrians are advised not to run across a Zebra crossing but walk. So why are cyclists riding across. Are cyclists being given adequate training as road users or they just buy a bike and ride?

    Proposing for cars to not turn in and out of junctions when pedestrians or cyclists are waiting to cross is confusing. Drivers know to give way to pedestrians already crossing. To say pedestrians should be given priority when they are still on the kerb and not already crossing is a problem. It is not a pedestrian crossing. They only cross when it is clear or they are given way by lights etc. Think about it guys.

  5. Try Driving on Dartmoor at weekends where cyclists are 4 a breast and in groups exceeding 30 people they wont let you pass especially if they are all going uphill and weave about like landing flies. Where are the police to enforce the changes yet alone enforce blatent rulebreaking seen every day.
    And while on the subject Mobile phones? What about cyclists using them on the road. Yep in Devon this is rife.
    Also m,ake it law that anybody crossing a pedestrian crossing while on their phone or wearing headphones should also be fined

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