Highway Code changes may lead to fines for drivers unsure of rules

Highway Code changes slammed by Steve McNamara

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Even though the changes were introduced in January 2022, 36 percent of drivers are aware that the rules of the road have changes. The amendments to the Highway Code were designed to make the roads safer, but experts fear that the lack of knowledge around the changes could increase the risk of motorists being landed with fines, points on their licence and disqualification.

One of the specific changes made to the Highway Code was the “Dutch Reach”, with 41 percent saying they did not know what the change was.

It involves drivers and pedestrians in a car being more cautious of the people around them when leaving the car.

People inside a vehicle should open the door with the hand furthest from the door as it forces their body to make a larger turn than it normally would.

When turning the body to open the door, it gives them a better view of the wing mirrors and out of the back window, allowing them to see if any pedestrians or cyclists were travelling towards them.

More than four in 10 drivers were also unsure of the new rules around charging electric cars.

For the first time ever, the Highway Code included guidance about using electric vehicle charging points.

When using one, people should park close to the charge point and avoid creating a trip hazard for people walking from trailing cables, also displaying a warning sign if they can.

The charging cables and connectors should be returned neatly to minimise the danger to other people and avoid creating an obstacle for other road users.

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Of those who are aware of the changes, two in five – or 40 percent – have become more careful when driving.

Many agreed that they are more conscious of cyclists (55 percent), pedestrians (52 percent), and horse riders (33 percent) when out on the road.

Catherine Marsh, Product Director at More Than, comments: “The Highway Code is designed to make roads a safer place and many of the rules are legal requirements – meaning that you are committing a criminal offense if you do not adhere to them, risking a fine, penalty points and, in some cases, disqualification.

“It is alarming that such a large proportion of drivers appear to be unaware of changes that were brought in a year ago, and we are seeing a rising number of prosecutions since the additions were made to the Code. 

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“Our findings suggest that more needs to be done by the industry and Government to ensure all road users are kept safe and in-the-know when it comes to driving law changes.”

The research also suggests that although drivers know the risks associated with breaking the Highway code, less than a fifth of drivers have sought additional information about the changes.

The study indicates that reminders and incentives are key to ensuring that drivers stay up-to-date on changes to The Highway Code, with nearly half reporting that they would learn the new Code if they received a text or email when the rules change.

An email alert service is already available on the Government website, and More Than is encouraging road users to sign up.

Additionally, two in five (42 percent) of the drivers say that they would welcome a re-education initiative from the Government to help them stay on top of rule changes.

Catherine Marsh concluded: “It is more important than ever for industry leaders to ensure all road users are kept safe and encouraged to remain up-to-date when it comes to the Highway Code changes.”

Some of the more than 2,000 drivers involved in the study suggested that incentives would help them stay up to date with the Highway Code.

The most popular incentive would be money off fuel for attending and completing an online course, with drivers still dealing with the cost of living crisis.

Other incentives included advertising initiatives, TikTok videos educating drivers of the changes as well as letters through the post explaining the dangers.

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