Over 80% of UK Drivers Skeptical About Effectiveness of 2022 Highway Code Changes Aimed at Pedestrian Safety

Survey Highlights Driver Skepticism:

A recent survey commissioned by the RAC has uncovered concerning trends regarding the implementation of the updated Highway Code in January 2022.

The survey, involving 2,500 UK drivers, indicates that less than 40% of motorists believe the changes aimed at improving pedestrian safety have been effective.

Low Adherence to Key Rule Changes:

Of particular note is the revelation that less than a quarter of drivers (23%) claim to consistently follow the rule requiring traffic to give way to pedestrians waiting at crossings.

The study exposes a significant gap in adherence to crucial rule changes designed to prioritize pedestrian safety on the roads.

Perceived Increase in Pedestrian Danger:

The survey brings to light a perception among nearly a third of drivers (31%) that pedestrians now face even greater danger on the roads since the introduction of the Highway Code amendments two years ago.

Highway Code Amendments Overview:

The Department for Transport (DfT) undertook a comprehensive update to the Highway Code on January 29, 2022, introducing 50 new rules across nine sections.

A pivotal change included the establishment of a ‘hierarchy of road users,’ emphasizing greater responsibility on drivers of larger vehicles.

Pedestrian Priority and Driver Compliance:

One critical rule change highlighted in the survey is related to pedestrian priority at junctions.

The new ruling explicitly states that pedestrians have the right of way over traffic, including cyclists, at junctions, and drivers should wait and allow them to cross.

However, the study indicates that a mere 23% of respondents consistently give priority to pedestrians in such scenarios.

Limited Impact on Pedestrian Safety:

Government statistics, presented in the survey, reveal that the rule changes have had limited impact on pedestrian safety.

The latest road casualty statistics for the year 2022, published in September, indicate that 30% of pedestrian fatalities occur at junctions.

Concerns About Ineffective Communication:

The survey results echo concerns raised by a report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee in November, emphasizing that communication about the Highway Code changes was not effective in encouraging public participation.

RAC’s findings suggest that many drivers, especially those aged 17 to 24, feel uncertain about the changes’ impact on road safety for vulnerable users.

RAC Urges Awareness and Communication:

RAC’s road safety spokesperson, Rod Dennis, expressed concern over the lack of awareness and adherence to the Highway Code changes, calling for renewed efforts in communication. Dennis urged motorists to revisit the changes, either online or through printed copies, and recommended the government make a concerted effort to communicate the amendments effectively to all road users.

Government’s Response and Public Consultation:

In response to the survey, a spokesperson from the Department for Transport emphasized that the changes in the Highway Code were informed by a public consultation with over 20,000 responses.

The government has utilized the Think! campaign to increase awareness and understanding of the changes over the past two years.

Despite these efforts, the survey indicates a significant gap in driver awareness and compliance.

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