One certainty which the pandemic has made certain is a complete change of behaviours; the way we work, shop and play has evolved, with data of public road usage conveying the way we use the roads was no different. According to statistics from 2020 by the Department of Transport (DfT), 39% of people surveyed were walking more, with 38% of people also cycling more than before the outbreak of the pandemic. With more cyclists and pedestrians using the road, the probability of an increase in road collisions is likely, with 2021 DfT figures corroborating this, showing that 4,290 pedestrians and 4,700 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in crashes on Britain’s roads.
As such, the UK Government has backed several eco-friendly initiatives in a bid to tackle rising pressure concerning climate change, announcing an investment of £5.5m in cycling and walking schemes. This included a revision of the Highway Code, with legislative change giving precedence for pedestrians and cyclists over other road users. Several rule changes include: cars must leave at least 1.5 metres room when passing bicycles, cyclists are now instructed to ride in the centre of the lane in slower moving traffic, while drivers must give way to pedestrians at junctions, being some of the key modifications of note. Furthermore, the creation of a “hierarchy of road users” indicates that drivers must take on more responsibility for the safety of more vulnerable road users.
However, with legislation due to be updated on 29th January 2022 pending parliamentary approval, major controversy within the motoring community sparked outrage at the lack of awareness being spread about the new rules, with the DfT website and social media accounts of the government’s Think! road safety campaign failing to mention the changes yet. An AA survey, with more than 13,700 drivers questioned, disclosed a third of motorists (33%) polled said they did not know the Highway Code was being revamped, including 4% who had “no intention” of looking at the details. Moreover, this lack of clarity will potentially cause fatal confusion as demonstrated by a spokesperson for the Alliance of British Drivers, stating that “the proposed hierarchy of road users is likely to create or exacerbate resentment and ill feeling between different classes of road user”. This is supported by Neil Greig, the director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, a road safety charity, who indicates that this will lead “to conflict and road rage and inappropriate overtaking. Everybody needs to know all of these changes at the same time for it to work.’
We at Pocket Box LTD would like to encourage all our users to keep up to date with any relevant updates of the Highway Code and we recommend that everyone adheres to the new legislation to keep everyone using the roads safe.