Saturday, September 25, 2021

Drivers will be told to stop for pedestrians crossing road as cyclists and walkers given priority in new Highway Code

DRIVERS will be told to stop for pedestrians crossing the road, with cyclists and those on foot given priority in a new version of the Highway Code.

In news sure to anger drivers who already face long delays whenever they get behind the wheel, ministers are planning to make sweeping changes to rules on where to give way.

Sweeping new changes planned for the Highway Code have been announced - and they're likely to anger drivers


Sweeping new changes planned for the Highway Code have been announced – and they’re likely to anger driversCredit: Alamy

For the first time, motorists will be told to stop for pedestrians crossing the road when they’re not on a pelican or zebra crossing.

And the direction will be in place at junctions too – meaning queues are likely to built even more quickly at the busiest spots as walkers hold up traffic.

Congestion is already worsening across the UK, with the average Brit spending six days in traffic over the course of a year.

Despite that, under the changes, drivers will be responsible for stopping, rather than simply looking out for pedestrians.

It comes after the existing rules, which advise pedestrians not to cross if there is oncoming traffic, were criticised by campaigners for lacking clarity.

Instead, the Department for Transport plans to create a ‘hierarchy’ of road users.

The pyramid will be based on the idea that those who can do the greatest harm – for example, lorry drivers – have the greatest responsibility to avoid hurting others.

Pedestrians, and especially children, the elderly and other vulnerable people, will be at the top.

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They’ll be followed by cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists and cars, with vans, HGVs and buses at the bottom.

It means blame for an accident will automatically fall on motorists.


The proposals will come before Parliament in the winter. If given the green light, they’ll be in force early next year.

Meanwhile, the Government announced it will spend £338million on new cycle lanes and improving existing ones, as well as supporting other forms of ‘active travel’ like walking.

That’s a 30 per cent increase on the £257m originally announced in last year’s spending review.

As part of the changes to the Highway Code, cyclists travelling straight ahead will be given priority at road junctions over drivers who are turning in or out or changing lanes.

Cyclists will be told to give way to pedestrians on shared-use cycle tracks.

Stephen Edwards, the interim chief executive of the walking charity Living Streets, welcomed the proposals.

“The Highway Code currently treats children walking to school and lorry drivers as if they are equally responsible for their own or other people’s safety. These changes will redress that balance,” he said.

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