Road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, has warned that a lack of communication from the government regarding the sweeping changes to the Highway Code set to come into force on 29 January means that many motorists will be running the risk of inadvertently breaking the rules of the road.
Four new rules and 49 changes to the Code include the requirement for drivers to give way to pedestrians at a junction, as well as a new risk-based ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’, which places more responsibility on the drivers of larger vehicles to look after more vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.
And while IAM RoadSmart has welcomed some of the changes, the charity has cautioned that the new rules will be of very little benefit if the public aren’t made aware of them.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “There is very little evidence from trials or pilot schemes that the new hierarchy or rules will help people feel safer undertaking active forms of travel, which has huge benefits in terms of personal health, local communities and the environment.
“The vast majority of people won’t have read the Highway Code for many years, meaning it is absolutely essential that changes are communicated in a simple, memorable and timely fashion.
“Unfortunately, this has not been the case so far, meaning there is now huge potential for more conflict on the roads rather than less.
“IAM RoadSmart will continue to inform its members and the wider public about such changes, but the government must also do more to effectively raise awareness of changes coming in just under a weeks time, ensuring Britain’s world leading road safety record is not put at risk.”
At least two in three drivers were unaware of the changes before Christmas, according to the AA, which polled 13,000 of its members on the subject.
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