Major campaign to raise awareness of Highway Code changes

There are concerns that millions of drivers do not know the code is being revamped.

Neil Lancefield
Wednesday 26 January 2022 15:41
More than half a million pounds will be spent raising awareness of changes to the Highway Code following concerns that many drivers do not know it is being revamped (Chris Radburn/PA)
More than half a million pounds will be spent raising awareness of changes to the Highway Code following concerns that many drivers do not know it is being revamped (Chris Radburn/PA)

More than £500,000 will be spent raising awareness of changes to the Highway Code following concerns that many drivers do not know it is being revamped.

The Department of Transport said its road safety offshoot Think! will launch a communications drive in mid-February to ensure “road-users across the country understand their responsibilities”.

The Highway Code, which contains advice and rules for people on Britain’s roads, is set to be updated from this weekend to provide more protection for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.

(PA Graphics)

An AA survey of more than 13,700 drivers conducted earlier this month indicated that 33% were unaware of the changes, including four percent who had “no intention” of looking at the details.

The publicity campaign will run across radio and social media channels, with further activity later in the summer.

It will operate in partnership with Transport for London and the Scottish Government.

Changes to the Highway Code come into effect on Saturday pending parliamentary approval.

I’m proud to say we have some of the safest roads in the world, but I’m determined to make them safer still for everyone

Roads minister Baroness Vere

Cyclists will be advised to ride in the centre of a lane on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic, and when approaching junctions to make themselves as visible as possible.

They will be reminded they can ride two abreast – as is already the case – but must allow drivers behind them to overtake if it is safe to do so.

A hierarchy of road users will be introduced, meaning someone driving will have more responsibility to watch out for people cycling, walking or riding a horse, and cyclists will have more responsibility to be aware of pedestrians.

(PA Graphics)

Other key amendments include clearer guidance for drivers to leave a distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists, and instructing traffic to give way when pedestrians are waiting to cross at junctions.

There will also be a recommendation for car occupants to open doors using their hand on the opposite side to the door, making them turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them.

This technique, known as the Dutch Reach, reduces the chances of doors being opening into the path of cyclists and motorcyclists.

The changes are advisory, meaning non-compliance will not result in a fine.

Roads minister Baroness Vere said: “I’m proud to say we have some of the safest roads in the world, but I’m determined to make them safer still for everyone.

It shouldn’t take bravery to cross a road or ride to school with kids but sometimes it feels that way

Chris Boardman

“These updates to the Highway Code will do just that by bringing the rules into the 21st century, encouraging people to respect and consider the needs of those around them, and ensuring all road users know the rules of the road.”

Olympic cycling gold medallist Chris Boardman the new active travel commissioner for England said: “It shouldn’t take bravery to cross a road or ride to school with kids but sometimes it feels that way.

“These changes to the Highway Code clarify our responsibility to each other and simply reinforce what good road users already do.”

The RAC’s head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes added: “These major changes to the Highway Code should make the roads safer for the most vulnerable road users, in particular those walking and cycling, so are to be welcomed.

“But it’s vitally important that all road users – especially drivers – take the time to fully understand what’s new as some of the changes are a significant departure from what’s gone before.”

Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at charity Cycling UK said a “long-term well-funded awareness campaign” is needed.

He went on: “Cycling UK is pleased to see a financial commitment, at least in the short term, to communicating the changes.

“People didn’t change their attitude to wearing seat belts and drink-driving overnight, and many won’t change their behaviour the next day simply because new Highway Code rules have been introduced.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in