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Changes to the Highway Code

Old habits die hard – a truism Britain’s road users will do well to remember following the recent roll-out of the revamped Highway Code.

While the changes have been driven by a desire to better protect pedestrians and cyclists, there is a very real risk they could do more harm than good in the short-term; reliant as they are on collective compliance.

No matter the merits of the updates, steering society towards universal adoption and on to the same page of the AA road atlas will take some time.

It might, for example, be reasonable to expect those currently swotting for a driving licence theory test to immediately recall that cars in England, Scotland and Wales should now give way when pedestrians are crossing or waiting to cross at junctions, but for people who tore up their L-plates years – or even decades – ago, many of the 50 rules that have been added or amended will be counter-intuitive.

Similarly, the current crop of school children completing cycling proficiency courses will know the Highway Code now advises them to ride in the centre of lanes on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic and when approaching junctions, whereas those seasoned in the saddle will be accustomed to very different pedal practises.

Add many motorists being confused by or unaware of the changes to the difficulty of diverting people from deep-rooted behaviours and it is clear a uniformed approach to road use is still a distant destination.

That there are sizeable blind spots in societal knowledge of the new-look Highway Code, which came into force on January 29th, is not lost on those at the Department for Transport responsible for refining it and is to be tackled head-on by a communications campaign that will launch later this month and run throughout the summer.

In the interim, the so-what of the scarce signposting and absence of a shared understanding is people reacting differently to different scenarios – a recipe for road traffic accidents.

Concern has already been voiced at the potential impact of the guidance to give way to pedestrians at junctions, suggesting it could be a catalyst for crashes – with drivers stopping to allow someone to cross on busy, fast-flowing roads running the risk of being hit from behind by another less Code-compliant motorist.

Likewise, pedestrians could be endangered in the event of one driver giving way but another approaching from the opposite direction failing to stop.

In such circumstances and noting that the changes – that include a hierarchy of types of road users based on which is likely to cause most harm in the event of a collision – are advisory, there is set to be some serious head scratching when it comes to determining culpability without the services of a savvy solicitor.

Although not law, the Highway Code’s guidance can be used to evidence cases and consequently the team at Accident Claims Lawyers are in the minority in having forensically studied its nine revised sections.

Our comprehensive knowledge of the rules of the road has previously helped win compensation settlements for countless clients and this trend will not be brought to an emergency stop by the Code’s latest chapter.

Old habits do die hard, but Accident Claims Lawyers are unapologetic about habitually having done the homework needed to bring clarity to complex cases.

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