The Highway Code changes coming in January that most drivers nevertheless don…

There are fears that the changes giving cyclists and pedestrians priority over drivers could create confusion and dangerous situations because only a third of motorists know about it.

Surveys undertaken by the AA show that many motorists don’t know about the big changes coming in January next year that will alter the way we all use the roads.

The changes include a hierarchy of responsibility which will average drivers of large vehicles bear a bigger responsibility to consider the safety of more unprotected road users.

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They also include new rules that average drivers should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross the road or already crossing the road at junctions and are due to come in to force on January 29 next year.

Some of the biggest changes include giving more protection and priority to cyclists who are now promoted to ride in the middle of the road in more situations.

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The new rules will introduce a ‘hierarchy’ of road users

Edmund King, President of the AA, said: “With such basic changes to the Highway Code taking place to make our roads safer, we need to ensure road users understand the new rules ahead of time.

“Getting the message out now would help avoid dangerous situations and remove any confusion on the roads before the new rules are adopted.”

The RAC’s roads policy chief, Nicholas Lyes, said: “A concerted effort must now be made to communicate the changes to drivers because as we know, many do not read the Highway Code for long periods after passing their test.

“Ultimately, the aim should be to ensure that everyone using the roads understands the new rules, because any confusion is likely to rule to avoidable collisions.”

Here are four of the new rules that will be in the updated Highway Code:

Rule H1 – Hierarchy of road users will see responsibility on those who could cause most harm

“It is important that ALL road users are aware of The Highway Code, are considerate to other road users and understand their responsibility for the safety of others. Everyone suffers when road collisions occur, whether they are physically injured or not.

“But those responsible for vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they present to others.

“This rule applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, followed by vans/minibuses, cars/taxis and motorcycles. Cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles likewise have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians.

“Always remember that the people you encounter may have impaired sight, hearing or mobility, and may not be able to see or hear you.

“None of this detracts from the responsibility of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, to have attention to their own and other road users’ safety.”

Rule H2 – Drivers will now give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a road

“At a junction you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.

“You MUST give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists on a similar crossing.

“You should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a similar crossing.

“Horse riders and horse drawn vehicles should also give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists on a similar crossing.

“Pedestrians have priority when on a zebra crossing, on a similar crossing or at light controlled crossings when they have a green signal.

“Cyclists should give way to pedestrians on shared use cycle tracks. Only pedestrians may use the pavement. This includes people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

“Pedestrians may use any part of the road and use cycle tracks in addition as the pavement, unless there are signs prohibiting pedestrians.”

Rule H3 – Drivers should not cut across cyclists and should wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists

“You should not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, just as you would not turn across the path of another motor means.

“This applies whether cyclists are using a cycle lane, a cycle track, or riding ahead on the road and you should give way to them.

“Do not turn at a junction if to do so would cause the cyclist going straight ahead to stop or swerve, just as you would do with a motor means.

“You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary. This includes when cyclists are:

  • approaching, passing or moving off from a junction
  • moving past or waiting alongside stationary or slow-moving traffic
  • travelling around a roundabout”

Rule 72 – Cyclists can ride in the middle of quiet roads before pulling over to the left when necessary

“Road positioning. When riding on the roads, there are two basic road locaiongs you should adopt, depending on the situation.

“1. Ride in the centre of your lane, to make yourself as clearly visible as possible, in the following situations:

  • on quiet roads or streets – if a faster means comes up behind you, move to the left to permit them to overtake, if you can do so safely
  • in slower-moving traffic move over to the left if you can do so safely so that faster vehicles behind you can overtake when the traffic around you starts to flow more freely
  • at the approach to junctions or road narrowings where it would be unsafe for drivers to overtake you

“2. When riding on busy roads, with vehicles moving faster than you, allow them to overtake where it is safe to do so whilst keeping at the minimum 0.5m away from the kerb edge.

“Remember that traffic on most dual carriageways moves quickly. Take additional care crossing slip roads.”

For the complete summary of changes you can visit the .Gov website here.

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