Further Protection for Vulnerable Road Users
The Highway Code was updated in 2022 to include new rules which introduced a new hierarchy of road users. This hierarchy now puts road users who are most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the order of importance, meaning that cyclists and pedestrians were granted even greater protection when using the roads.
The new rules came into effect on the 29th January 2022, but not with the sort of fanfare that would have been expected to bring these changes to the forefront of the minds of all road users. Three of the key changes, referred to as Rules H1, H2 and H3 are as follows:-
Key Changes to the Highway Code to Protect Vulnerable Road Users
It is important that ALL road users are aware of The Highway Code, are considerate to other road users and understand their responsibility for the safety of others.
Everyone suffers when road collisions occur, whether they are physically injured or not. But those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others. This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, vans/minibuses, cars/taxis and motorcycles.
Cyclists, horse riders and drivers of horse-drawn vehicles likewise have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians.
None of this detracts from the responsibility of ALL road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, to have regard for their own and other road users’ safety.
Always remember that the people you encounter may have impaired sight, hearing or mobility and that this may not be obvious.
This is a Rule for drivers, motorcyclists, horse-drawn vehicles, horse riders and cyclists. It states that:-
At a junction you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.
You MUST give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing, and to pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing (see Rule 195).
Pedestrians have priority when on a zebra crossing, on a parallel crossing or at light-controlled crossings when they have a green signal.
You should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing, and to pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing.
Horse riders should also give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing, and to pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing.
Cyclists should give way to pedestrians on shared use cycle tracks and to horse riders on bridleways.
Only pedestrians may use the pavement. Pedestrians include wheelchair and mobility scooter users.
Pedestrians may use any part of the road and use cycle tracks as well as the pavement, unless there are signs prohibiting pedestrians.
There are some potential pitfalls which could arise from motorists not being familiar with this particular rule. For example, motorists unaware of this change may assume that, when turning into a road, they have right of way at all times. However, the rule states that driver must give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.
This is a rule for drivers and motorcyclists and states as follows:-
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, just as you would not turn across the path of another motor vehicle. This applies whether they are using a cycle lane, a cycle track, or riding ahead on the road and you should give way to them.
Do not turn at a junction if to do so would cause the cyclist, horse rider or horse-drawn vehicle going straight ahead to stop or swerve.
You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary. This includes when cyclists are:
- approaching, passing or moving off from a junction
- moving past or waiting alongside stationary or slow-moving traffic
- travelling around a roundabout
How will these changes affect claims?
In my experience of handling claims involving the most serious of injuries, I have represented many cyclist clients who have been driven into as cars turn across their path as they proceed correctly along a road. This is a very common situation that cyclists face.
It can be due to many varying factors, such as drivers thinking that they have sufficient time to cut across the path of a bicycle before the bicycle reaches the junction with the road into which they are turning, misjudging the speed of the bicycle. It can even be simple disdain from motorists towards cyclists.
With the introduction of Rule H3, there is a far greater onus on the road user performing the turn to only do so when it is completely safe for them to do so.
This is a factor which will be determined on the basis of the evidence on a case-by-case basis, because what one person deems to be a safe gap in the traffic may not be deemed safe by another person.
However, there is now a greater duty on road users to keep this in mind when making a turn, with the rules correctly being weighted in favour of the more vulnerable road user.
Additionally, in the 2022 update to the rules, vehicles and cyclists now have to give way to any pedestrian who is either crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which the vehicle or cyclist is turning.
This is another significant change to the rules, which could very well see an increase in serious accidents in which the vehicle driver or cyclist is deemed liable.
What should we take away from these changes?
The overriding message remains that all road users have a duty to proceed with extreme caution in respect of their levels of awareness. This raised awareness will contribute to the reduction of serious injuries caused by road traffic collisions.* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*