Millions of drivers unsure of new Highway Code changes

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According to a new study, less than one driver in five was able to correctly identify some of the updated Highway Code rules. Drivers appear to be puzzled over a number of rules, including the right of way when crossing a side road or the correct procedure when overtaking a horse. 

There is even some uncertainty about the recommended way to open a car door.

In spite of this, 91 percent of motorists are confident in their ability to drive safely and efficiently.

In addition, more than three-quarters are confident they would pass a practical driving test if they took it today, and almost two-thirds feel they would pass a driving theory test.

The research, from Aviva’s Quotemehappy Connect survey, questioned 1,500 drivers on their knowledge of the Highway Code rules.

Major changes were unveiled in January 2022, with the Department for Transport aiming to make the roads safer for all who use them.

A “hierarchy of road users” was introduced, ensuring quicker or heavier modes of travel have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others on the road.

Cyclists were also given fresh guidance to ride in the centre of a lane on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions in order to make themselves as clearly visible as possible. 

They were also reminded that they can ride two abreast, as has always been the case and which can be safer in large groups or with children.

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However, they must be aware of drivers behind them and allow them to overtake if it is safe to do so.

Matthew Washer, Head of Connected Motor at Aviva, said: “There are a wealth of tools and tips available to help motorists drive more safely.

“Our Quotemehappy Connect app is designed with younger drivers in mind, to monitor driving and provide feedback, guidance and coaching to help them become safer drivers.

“However, it’s important that people know the rules of the roads too. 

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“This latest research demonstrates that people aren’t always up to speed with the latest Highway Code changes, so we’d encourage them to review their knowledge on a regular basis, so they know how to stick to the rules when behind the wheel.”

DVLA figures show there are 41,457,286 motorists with full driving licences in Great Britain and 9,473,249 provisional licence holders.

The research initially suggests that younger drivers could have a better knowledge of the Highway Code than more mature motorists. 

More than half of drivers aged between 17 and 24 say they review the Highway Code at least once a year, compared to less than a quarter (24 percent) of motorists aged 55 and older.

Two-thirds of drivers (65 percent) aged under 25 also say they are confident in their Highway Code knowledge, compared to 46 percent of those aged 55 and above.

However, the study found that drivers aged 17-24 most commonly scored five out of 12, when questioned on selected points of the Highway Code, compared to seven out of 12 for motorists aged 55 and above. 

Interestingly, only three of the 1,508 drivers surveyed answered all 12 questions correctly – all three were aged 55 and over. Motorists were also encouraged to adopt the so-called “Dutch Reach” technique to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

This would involve the driver using their left hand to open the car door, turning their body in the process to give them a better view out of the window for any oncoming traffic.

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