New research into drivers' knowledge of changes to the Highway Code has raised concern, a survey estimating that 25 per cent of drivers do not know the correct rules on pedestrian and cyclist priority.
The research comes courtesy of Tier, the world's largest shared micro-mobility operator, who surveyed motorists ahead of Car-Free Day and have now called for better awareness of the Highway Code changes and hierarchy of road users.
Changes were implemented in January 2022 to better protect vulnerable road users, and include establishing a hierarchy of road users with those most vulnerable (pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders) placed at the top, as well as giving cyclists and those on foot priority in situations such as the ones illustrated below.
However, Tier's survey found that one-in-four drivers were incorrect or unable to answer on questions of pedestrian and cyclist priority and incorrectly believe that those driving vehicles have priority over cyclists and pedestrians when turning onto a side road.
Furthermore less than half of drivers correctly identified pedestrians as having priority, that despite the two-year anniversary of the Highway Code changes approaching this winter.
The Highway Code states:
You should not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse-drawn vehicles going ahead when you are turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane
More than a third of drivers surveyed wrongly believed drivers have priority when turning into a side road, while one-in-five said they were not sure who has priority.
Jessica Murphy, Head of Public Policy UKI at Tier, said the results of the survey were troubling, and demonstrate the need to further raise awareness of the changes to avoid dangerous interactions on Britain's roads.
She said: "The findings highlight how well-meaning changes to the Highway Code still put the onus on cyclists and other vulnerable road users to be aware of drivers. Currently the majority of drivers should give cyclists their legal right of way, however a quarter will not, which could lead to potentially devastating outcomes.
"We hope that by raising awareness of the changes more drivers will hear about the changes and drive according to the Highway Code, making our roads safer to cycle on, especially in urban areas and reduce conflict between road users."
The changes to the Highway Code were brought in 20 months ago and prompted much discussion and hysteria at the time. Just days before the revisions came into force, two major newspapers misrepresented the rules around the 'Dutch Reach' technique, designed to reduce the chances of dooring a cyclist.
A further concern came with the lack of communication of the changes to the public, Cycling UK at the time calling for a long-term public awareness campaign to help produce a "mindset shift" on British roads. It took until July, six months after they came into effect, for the changes to be promoted in a THINK! road safety campaign.
And Tier's research is hardly surprising considering the news a year ago that an AA survey showed that 61 per cent of drivers had not read the new rules.
"While we are pleased that many of the changes can be successfully recalled, we'd like more drivers to know the rules outright so they can keep themselves and others safe," the managing director of AA Accident Assist, Tim Rankin, said.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.