A new ‘hierarchy of responsibility’, announced this summer, is being introduced to the Highway Code to offer better protections towards the most vulnerable road users.
The changes are currently undergoing Parliamentary approval and, if accepted, will be immediately adopted on 29 January 2022.
However, the AA survey of around 13,500 drivers found that only a third (33%) knew they were being introduced, a fifth (20%) believed such plans were ‘false’ and almost half were completely unaware of such plans (48%).
Other changes to the Highway Code include giving pedestrians crossing the road the right of way over all other road users, however just two-fifths (38%) know that such plans are being adopted.
Similarly, only 19% are aware that the Code will advise of scenarios where cyclists ‘may sometimes ride in the centre of the lane, rather than towards the side of the road’ and that ‘It can be safer for groups of cyclists to ride two abreast in these situations’.
Fortunately, two-thirds (65%) of drivers are aware that rights of way for cyclists are changing and more than half (52%) know that minimum spacing rules are being adopted when overtaking cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders.
To further test knowledge of the Highway Code, when given a choice of true or false, many felt existing rules were going to be introduced in 2022. For example, half of drivers (53%) believed that banning the use of a horn between 11:30 pm and 7:00 am unless in an emergency, were being introduced in 2022.
Likewise, more than two-fifths (44%) felt that existing rules on national speed limits for vehicles towing a caravan or trailer being set at 50mph on a single carriageway were only now being adopted.
The AA is calling for an education campaign targeted at all road users to be started as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the rules to be adopted. Under the Parliamentary process, once approved the changes become live, so people would need to learn them whilst actually out on the roads.
Edmund King, AA president, said: “With such fundamental 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.
“While we can educate new drivers through our driving schools, it is a mammoth task to inform and educate the 40 million full licence holders already on the roads. Previous AA research shows that three in 10 drivers (30%) have not looked at the Highway Code since they passed their test.
“Considering these changes cover vital issues such as rights of way and introduces a ‘hierarchy of responsibility’, we urge the Department to start talking about these changes now in a comprehensive campaign.”
Source: Fleet World
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