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New driving rule that will impact motorists

A new Highway Code rule is coming at the end of January that could severely impact motorists.

From 29 January 2022, a new rule - subject to parliamentary approval - will be coming into play that will mean cyclists and pedestrians will have priority to cross at junctions and parallel crossings.

Both cyclists and motorists will have to give way to pedestrians crossing the road of the junction they are coming out of, meaning if you were turning left onto the main road and a pedestrian was waiting to cross, you would have to allow them to do so before pulling out of the said junction.

In reality, many drivers do already do this, especially if there is a fair bit of traffic on the road they are turning on. But for it to be passed as an actual law could lead to confusion and quite possibly an increase in accidents, if the rule isn't publicly communicated properly.

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The idea of this change is to increase safety on the roads, particularly for the vulnerable. But establishing a priority system such as this will not come without its troubles.

Many have welcomed the idea while some have asked why the number of pedestrian crossings isn't increased to make it less confusing as to who has the right of way. 

The Department of Transport recently released a document which states: “The ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ is a concept that places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy.  

“The hierarchy does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly.

"The road users most likely to be injured in the event of a collision are pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists, with children, older adults, and disabled people being more at risk.” 

However, this rule change is not widely known, and in a recent survey by the AA involving over 13,000 drivers, only around 4,000 knew of the rule change in some capacity.

The motor association, speaking to The Daily Mail, said: "Getting the message out now would help avoid dangerous situations and remove any confusion on the roads before the new rules are adopted." 

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Their message is clear and raises questions many would be rightly asking; where is the official Government announcement that these are coming into play? Will it be on January 29 or before that? It might be too late if it's the former.

The Department for Transport was quick to say: "The proposed upcoming changes to The Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians, and horse riders and were widely reported when they were announced earlier this year [in 2021]." 

The head of the charity, Cycling UK, has welcomed the new changes having campaigned for years to get them implemented. 

Duncan Dollimore said: “These amendments bring not just much-needed clarity on key areas of reducing danger on our roads, such as safe overtaking distances of people walking, cycling or horse riding, but also through the new ‘hierarchy of road users’ [which] challenges the current mindset that ‘might is right’ on our roads. 

“It enshrines in law the need for those who present the most risk on our roads to look out for those who are the most vulnerable. This can only make the roads safer for everyone.

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“Over 16,000 people backed the amendments Cycling UK called for when the government consulted on improving the Highway Code for vulnerable road users in 2020.

“Today we’re seeing many of these a step closer to becoming a reality, and we commend the Department for Transport for listening and making these important changes.” 

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