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ABD’s Response To Proposed Highway Code Changes

By 20th January 2022 6 Comments

In late July 2021 the Government launched a consultation into a review of the Highway Code. The claimed purpose of the review was “to improve road safety for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders”. While that may be a laudable aim, some of the measures proposed to achieve it could have serious consequences for drivers. The ABD has responded to the consultation and the main points are described below.

The major proposal is the creation of a ‘hierarchy’ of road users, based on their perceived vulnerability to injury. This puts pedestrians at the top, followed by cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders, car drivers, van drivers, with bus and lorry drivers last. Those at the lower end are presumed to have the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to those more vulnerable. The ABD objected to the proposed hierarchy as follows:

“The proposed hierarchy of road users is likely to create or exacerbate resentment and ill feeling between different classes of road user, and may lead to irresponsible attitudes by cyclists and pedestrians. All road users have a responsibility towards all other users and should treat one another with respect and tolerance.”

Specific proposals to assist pedestrians include a rule change stating that other road users should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which they are turning. The ABD’s response to that was:

“This could cause confusion and possible accidents, especially if a driver is forced to stop part way through a turn from a main road into a side road and a following driver does not realise what is happening.”

Another, astonishing proposal is that pedestrians “may use any part of the road and use cycle tracks as well as the pavement unless there are signs prohibiting pedestrians.” The ABD responded:

“This is a recipe for anarchy and accidents. It is unworkable. Greater clarification is needed as it appears to give pedestrians total control over the entire road network.”

Other issues to which the ABD has responded include our proposal that where cycle routes and other facilities are provided it should be mandatory to use them (not just advised). This would not only enhance cyclists’ safety, but would reduce unnecessary obstruction and delay to other traffic. The ABD has also suggested that the fitting of bells to bicycles should be mandatory and not just recommended.

The other major proposal in the consultation is that drivers should use the ‘Dutch Reach’ method when opening a car door from the inside. This involves using your hand furthest from the door to open it, thus reducing the risk of hitting a passing pedestrian or cyclist. Our response was that, since it is mandatory to ensure that you do not hit anyone when opening a door, describing how a door should be opened is unnecessarily prescriptive. At the most, the new rule should be just to ‘consider’ using the Dutch Reach.

We can only hope that sanity will prevail when the changes are finalised, but past experience is not encouraging!

6 Comments

  • Carol says:

    I am absolutey astounded by these changes. I have read the haulage assoc review and agree with them comprehensively.
    We all share responsibility for our actions on the road network equally and that is the way it must stay. Rule H3 is a step backwords for all in road safety and right of way should remain with the vehicle in front.
    Sadly no effort to improve road safety for any road user will work until car driver training is substantially improved and made harder as it has been for motorcyclists and is for HGVs etc. Improved safety does not come with lowering speed limits but increased and improved road training.

  • SIMON SHAW says:

    I will never understand why cyclists have become the most priviledged road users when they do not directly contribute to any cost to the system. Most do use cycle lanes but on country roads there isn,t room for separate lanes so they can cause traffic hold ups and increased pollution on some narrow and hilly A roads which are used by many large HGVs. This really is all part of every minority in this country being given priority!

  • Charles Fielding says:

    “This could cause confusion and possible accidents, especially if a driver is forced to stop part way through a turn from a main road into a side road and a following driver does not realise what is happening.”

    On the contrary, if the person about turn slows down well in advance of the turn then following vehicles will already have slowed. It will encourage better and less aggressive driving and will make crossing the road by pedestrians much safer. We have to consider all other road users and not just focus on drivers. Drivers kill 5 people every day and seriously injure another 65, this has to be addressed.

  • brian says:

    I didn’t hear the consultation in 2019-2020? it was the height of the covid crisis so I think many were thinking of other things.
    Now we seem to be governed by a Baroness and Smartsurvey. Someone with no democratic authority talking down to us about an unrepresentative tiny consultation
    How about demanding a rerun of the smartsurvey. Providing it wasn’t fiddled I think it might get millions of replies, and H1, 2,and H3 kicked out. They are inherently unsafe. Prohibit cycles alongside vehicles in the same lane that would worth trying as a way to reduce bike accidents.
    Referendum anyone?.

  • Ian Rogers says:

    As someone who lives close to country and rural areas, here’s a thought about the new rules for overtaking horses. Assuming the horse and rider are reasonable close to the near side edge of a road, then the offside of the horse/rider combination will be something like 10 feet from the nearside edge. Now the minimum overtaking distance in the new code is 6 feet 6 inches, which takes us to 16 feet 6 inches from the nearside edge. Now add on another 6’ 6” minimum for the width of the overtaking vehicle, and, say, another 3 feet for safe clearance on the driver’s side of the road. That comes to at least 26 feet. So, a driver can only over take a horse and rider if the road is at least that wide. Most horses are ridden on Country Roads. I would suggest that the majority of country roads are narrower than 26 feet wide. Add into the mix that the maximum overtaking speed is 10 m.p.h. I leave the rest to your imagination…..

  • Ian says:

    “a rule change stating that other road users should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which they are turning”

    The Highway Code has always said that other road users should give way to pedestrians crossing a road into which or from which they are turning. Most drivers were either unaware of this or simply ignored it, instead driving at pedestrians crossing side roads and hooting at them. In the event of an accident these drivers would claim “they stepped out in front of me”. Adding “pedestrians waiting to cross” to the rule takes away the ability to use this (dishonest) defence.

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