Changes to the Highway Code have been announced, including putting pedestrians at the top of a new road user hierarchy.
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, says a key feature of the proposals is the introduction of a ‘hierarchy of responsibility’, with road users who cause the greatest harm having a greater responsibility to reduce the threat they pose to others. The hierarchy places pedestrians at the top of the hierarchy, as the road users most at risk in the event of a collision.
Stephen Edwards of Living Streets says: “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. People walking cause the least road danger but are often left paying the price, with pedestrians accounting for over a quarter of road deaths. Road users who have potential to cause the greatest harm should take the greatest share of responsibility to reduce the danger they pose."
“Whether we choose to also drive or cycle, we are all pedestrians. These proposed revisions will benefit us all.”
The changes will also benefit cyclists, giving them priority over motor vehicles when travelling straight on at junctions.
The revised code is due to come into effect in the autumn, pending parliamentary approval. It will apply in England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has its own version of the code.
The Department of Transport said that the Highway Code overhaul, along with an extra £338m to boost active travel, will help to sustain the increase in walking and cycling seen during the pandemic.
The funding, it added, would go towards building hundreds of miles of cycle lanes.