Recent Survey Casts Doubt on Highway Code Updates Improving Pedestrian Safety
In the realm of UK’s road safety, the Highway Code stands as a critical guide, outlining rules and advice for road users.
Its significant revision in January 2022, initiated by the Department for Transport (DfT), aimed to bolster the safety of pedestrians and other vulnerable users. However, recent findings reveal a concerning skepticism among drivers about the effectiveness of these changes.
A comprehensive survey conducted by the RAC, involving 2,500 drivers across the UK, reveals a startling perspective: only 18% believe that the amendments to the Highway Code have enhanced pedestrian safety. Alarmingly, 31% of the participants feel that pedestrians are now at a higher risk, particularly at junctions, post-amendment.
These amendments made clear stipulations, such as requiring vehicles to yield to pedestrians crossing or awaiting to cross at junctions. Yet, the survey indicates a gap in compliance. Only 23% of drivers assert they consistently adhere to this rule, while 19% seldom stop for pedestrians, and 6% admit to never doing so.
The gravity of this issue is underlined by government statistics, highlighting that 30% of pedestrian fatalities on Britain’s roads occur at junctions.
The Highway Code revamp also introduced a hierarchy among road users, placing greater responsibility on drivers to be vigilant of pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians. Additionally, cyclists were advised to maintain high visibility, especially on quieter roads, in slow-moving traffic, and near junctions.
Despite these well-intentioned changes, a November 2023 report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee raised concerns. It highlighted a significant communication gap in disseminating the updated Highway Code, impacting public awareness and participation.
This survey’s insights call for a critical evaluation of the current road safety strategies and the effectiveness of the Highway Code’s recent amendments. Enhancing awareness and ensuring compliance are imperative steps towards safeguarding the lives of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users in the UK.