Revision of the Highway Code 2006

Below is the Association of British Drivers' response to the above consultation as sent to the Driving Standards Agency. It is set out as a table with proposed amendments in the left-hand column and the reasoned justification for those proposals in the right-hand column.
 
Since few drivers take the trouble to obtain and familiarise themselves with revised copies of the Highway Code after they pass the driving test, the ABD has also suggested that the DSA should seek commercial sponsorship to enable the Highway Code to be sent free to every household in the country. This would lead to more road users becoming familiar with revised regulations and advice on how to make their journeys safely.
 
 
ProposalReasoned Justification
In Rules for pedestrians it is proposed that an additional rule be inserted on Crossing the road, perhaps between rules 7 and 8:
 
Your full attention is needed when crossing the road. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by using a mobile phone or personal stereo.
There is increasing evidence that the use of mobile phones and personal stereos by pedestrians can be distracting or can mask the sound of approaching traffic.
 
Example 1
Example 2 (USA)
Example 3 (Australia)
In Rules for cyclists it is proposed that an additional rule be inserted in When cycling, perhaps between rules 58 and 59:
 
Do not use a mobile phone or personal stereo when cycling on the road, as these can distract your attention or mask the sound of other vehicles.
There is increasing evidence that the use of mobile phones and personal stereos by cyclists can be distracting or can mask the sound of approaching traffic.
 
Example 1
In Lighting requirements it is proposed that additional bullet points be added to those in rule 109:
 
• use main beam headlights on unlit rural roads at night when not following another vehicle and there is no oncoming traffic, to allow a following driver who may wish to overtake to see the road ahead.
 
• carry a spare headlight bulb so that you can replace a failed bulb as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.
Failure to use main beam at night on unlit roads makes it more difficult for following drivers to judge when it is safe to overtake.
 
Vehicles with only one headlight may appear further away than they are or may be mistaken for a motorcycle. This can cause other road users to make misjudgements and thus create danger.
In Vehicle emissions, it is proposed that additional wording should be inserted at the end of rule 117:
 
…, unless there is a risk of windows misting up in damp or cold weather.
It is essential for safety that windows are kept clear of mist and frost, so it may be necessary to keep an engine running when stationary in order that the demister continues to operate.
In the table of speed limits (page 33) it is proposed that there should be cross-referencing between the column headings for Single carriageways and Dual carriageways with the definitions of those road types prior to rules 129 and 131, respectively. Some drivers do not understand the difference between traffic lanes and carriageways, and believe that where there are two or more lanes in the direction in which they are travelling they are on a dual carriageway, even if there is no central reservation separating the two directions of flow. This can lead to drivers having a false understanding of the speed limit for the road they are travelling on.
Also in the table of speed limits (page 33), under Cars & motorcycles, the wording in brackets states "including car derived vans up to 2 tonnes maximum laden weight". This implies that vans of up to 2 tonnes that are not car derived are subject to different speed limits. If this is not the correct interpretation, then the following wording could perhaps be substituted (and a similar change made under Cars towing caravans or trailers):
(including goods vehicles, such as car derived vans, up to 2 tonnes maximum laden weight)
The category of goods vehicles subject to the same speed limits as cars and motorcycles is not clearly defined by the current wording and requires clarification.
In Stopping distances, the second bullet point in rule 120 states that drivers should maintain a minimum two-second gap to the vehicle in front on roads carrying 'fast traffic'. This term is rather vague and should be defined more clearly in relation to the two-second rule. Terms like 'fast' and 'slow' are relative and open to different interpretations. If it is intended to convey that the two-second rule should apply whenever traffic is flowing freely (as opposed to congested conditions) then this should be stated specifically, since keeping a safe headway is important in urban areas as well as on rural roads.
In Lines and lane markings on the road there is no reference to carriageway edge lines, despite these being shown in the diagrams on page 94. It is proposed that an additional rule should be inserted, perhaps after rule 125, to clarify the legal position about crossing one of these lines. Some modern roads have metre strips beyond the nominal width of the carriageway, and these are divided from the main traffic lanes by solid white lines. Logically, this suggests that vehicles should not cross or straddle the lines, but cyclists often use the metre strips as cycle lanes and drivers of motor vehicles are unsure whether it is permissible to cross them. Clarification is required.
On page 37, it is proposed that the heading Multi-lane carriageways be changed to Multi-lane roads. This section contains sub-sections on single carriageways and dual carriageways, and rules 127 and 128 apply to both types of road.The heading as existing adds to the confusion between single and dual carriageway roads.
Under the sub-heading Single carriageway it is proposed that an additional definition be inserted before rule 129:
 
A single carriageway is a road on which there is no central reservation or physical barrier separating the two directions of traffic flow. Multi-lane roads where the two directions of flow are separated only by road markings are classed as single carriageways.
As noted above, many drivers do not realise that a multi-lane, single-carriageway road is not a dual carriageway. The proposed definition of a dual carriageway before rule 131 is welcomed, but an additional definition of a single carriageway would add further clarification.
In the section on Country roads, it is proposed that an additional rule be inserted after rule 150 on Single-track roads:
 
Be prepared to stop well within half the distance you can see to be clear ahead. There may be a vehicle travelling towards you at a similar or higher speed.
Drivers are normally advised to be able to stop within the distance they can see to be clear ahead. This needs to be halved on single-track roads where vehicles from opposite directions may both need to stop.
In the section on Overtaking, it is proposed that additional rules be inserted after rule 162 on Being overtaken:
 
If you catch slower moving vehicles and do not intend to overtake them, leave sufficient space between yourself and the vehicle in front so that overtaking drivers can pull in safely if they are unable to pass the whole queue at once.
 
Use main beam headlights on unlit rural roads at night when not following another vehicle and there is no oncoming traffic, to allow a following driver who may wish to overtake to see the road ahead.
A great deal of frustration is caused by drivers who follow the vehicle in front closely, even when they have no intention of trying to overtake themselves. This creates difficulty and danger for those drivers who do wish to overtake and may try to pass several vehicles at once, with no safe gaps to pull into if a vehicle appears from the opposite direction.
 
Failure to use main beam at night on unlit roads makes it more difficult for following drivers to judge when it is safe to overtake.
In the section on Road users requiring extra care, rule 201 on Particularly vulnerable pedestrians, it is proposed that the last sentence of the first bullet point, which currently reads "So kill your speed", should be changed to read:
 
So moderate your speed accordingly.
The purpose of the Highway Code is to provide factual information and guidance to road users, without resorting to gimmicky slogans or emotive propaganda. The term "kill your speed", if taken literally, means "stop", since to kill something is to eradicate it entirely. The current wording, therefore, is not worthy of inclusion in a serious road safety publication such as the Highway Code.
In rule 213 on Emergency vehicles, it is proposed that the following wording be added before the last sentence:
 
When approaching a roundabout, if you see an emergency vehicle approaching from another direction, do not enter the roundabout until the emergency vehicle has passed through it.
Drivers who enter a roundabout even when an emergency vehicle can be clearly seen or heard add to the traffic that may obstruct the emergency vehicle, and reduce the ability of drivers in front of it to enter the roundabout to let it through.
Also in rule 213 on Emergency vehicles, it is proposed that the following wording be added at the end:
 
… or break traffic laws by, for example, pulling forward across a stop line at a red traffic light.
Recent court cases show that facilitating the passage of an emergency vehicle is not regarded as a valid defence to a prosecution brought with evidence obtained by a red-light camera.
In the section on Waiting and parking, rule 237 on where drivers should not stop, it is proposed that an additional bullet point should be inserted as follows:
 
in an area provided within a cul-de-sac for the purpose of allowing vehicles to turn round and leave the road in forward gear.
 
Diagrams could also be included to show what head and side turning areas look like, so that it can clearly be seen that they are not intended for parking.
Many drivers believe that the turning areas provided in culs-de-sac are actually meant to be parking spaces. Their misuse in this way can make it impossible for large vehicles in particular to turn round, forcing them to reverse from the cul-de-sac into a main road, with the attendant dangers that this brings.
In Annex 8, Safety Code for New Drivers, the advice on page 112 about taking further training should be strengthened. In the paragraph beginning "You could consider taking further training such as Pass Plus…" it is proposed that "could" be replaced with "should".
There should also be advice about advanced driver training available from organisations such as the IAM, RoSPA, etc.
Much greater guidance needs to be given to new drivers to make them realise that passing the standard driving test is only the first stage in becoming a safe driver. Advanced driver training in areas such as attitude, and hazard perception and response, has been shown to lead to significant reductions in accident involvement.

 
Footnote: The government subsequently ignored every single one of these proposed amendments.
See our press release 593 of 8 Nov 2007 for our comments on this.
 

Top  ABD Home Page     Documents     Contact the ABD