Vulnerable Road Users

When talking about road safety issues, the term ‘vulnerable road users’ is often quoted. But does it actually mean?

Vulnerable means those most at risk of exposure to the possibility of harm. RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents describes vulnerable road users as ‘those who have less crash protection than occupants of motor vehicles.’ So that includes :

  • wheelchair and mobility scooter users
  • pedestrians
  • horse riders
  • cyclists

Pedestrians can be broken down into even more vulnerable groups such as:

  • children
  • those with disabilities
  • the elderly

The Hierarchy of Road Users

In 2022 the new Highway Code created ‘The Hierarchy of Road Users.’ The idea behind this was to make road users who were least at risk, responsible for those more at risk than themselves.

Drivers and riders of motor vehicles therefore, especially large ones, should look out for all the road users in the categories above. They have a duty of care towards these more vulnerable road users.

The Code includes motorcyclists in this group of motor vehicles. Many riders however, would argue that they are equally vulnerable in comparison to drivers of cars, lorries and buses.

Those at Risk

So why are some categories of road user more vulnerable than others? It is obvious that a collision between a motor vehicle and anyone in the classes above could result in serious injury. The driver of the motor vehicle however is much less likely to come to harm. Therefore it is the driver’s responsibility to exercise caution and courtesy when other people are around.

Cyclists and horse riders, although vulnerable to motor vehicles themselves, still have a responsibility towards pedestrians.

That does not take away the responsibility of any vulnerable road user to protect themselves.

The Most Vulnerable

vulnerable road usersThe most vulnerable of pedestrians are in the second group.

Children can be unpredictable. Their judgement maybe poor and they can be reckless.

The elderly may also suffer from poor judgement. In addition, they may be limited in mobility, or perhaps have deteriorating vision and hearing.

People with disabilities could have any number of conditions which may affect their ability to cross roads safely.

These are the groups for which all drivers and riders have the most responsibility towards.

So whatever your means of transport, always be on the lookout for those who are more at risk than yourself. Show courtesy and consideration, give them extra time and extra room. With a little more thought for those around us, we could all make the roads a safer place to be.

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