New Highway Code Rules


Are you ready for the confusion that the new Highway Code rules are likely to bring to our roads? (As if there wasn’t enough already).

Most changes have met with approval; apart from the one about giving way to people who want to cross roads. Under the current rules, drivers are already required to give way to pedestrians who are crossing a road they are about to enter, or those who are already stepping off the kerb. The changes in the rules now state that drivers should also give way to pedestrians who are waiting to cross the road that the driver is about to enter.

Now that’s all well and good where a driver is slowing down on the approach to the end of a road. In this situation many drivers already hold back for people who have been waiting to step out. However the likely problems will arrive when the driver is turning into a side road.

If someone is about to turn left where there are pedestrians waiting to step out, and that driver suddenly stops; will the following driver react in time? Will that following driver be able to see far enough into to the road to realise that there are people there. There is the argument here that drivers should keep a safe following distance that always allows them to stop in time. But the increased risk of collision will undoubtedly be there; particularly if people who believe they have priority just start walking in front of cars.

Turning Right into a Side Road

When turning right into a side road however there are going to be all manner of complications. A right-turning driver has to give way to oncoming traffic. If they also have to wait for pedestrians, when is that safe gap going to come along? They may miss gaps because there’s someone about to cross. On particularly busy roads those gaps may not appear very often. And woe betide the driver who tries to make a quick turn when someone’s about to step out. If they then have to brake in the path of an oncoming car the danger is obvious.

What if an oncoming driver courteously stops, flashes their lights and waves the waiting driver to turn? With pedestrians near the kerb do they just shrug their shoulders and wait? Or do they look for a courteous pedestrian to be aware of the situation and also wave them across?

The Cause of More Congestion?

The most ludicrous situation will probably occur in busy town centres where there are hundreds of people about. If those people have priority over a right-turning driver how long are they going to have to sit on the main road and wait? Traffic behind them will grind to a standstill. That will include all the public transport vehicles which are supposed to encourage us to leave our cars at home.

The concerns noted by many about this situation have caused the Department of Transport to have a rethink. They are talking about carefully re-wording these new rules. But will any of this help to stop the confusion and conflict of these new Highway Code rules? I very much doubt it.

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