Changes to the Highway Code earlier this year are not getting through to drivers.

According to an AA poll of over 13,000 motorists, 61% had not read the updates.

Left at home

The Highway Code was updated in January 2022, with 50 rules added or amended.

Most controversial was the introduction of a ‘hierarchy of road-users’. This meant vulnerable road users were given priority over motorists to improve road safety,  including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

The new guidance means that drivers turning left have to give way to pedestrians who are crossing or waiting to cross at junctions. The concern is that many drivers would not be aware of the change and not expect to give way to pedestrians. Other worries involved vehicles stopping unexpectedly when turning left to give pedestrians priority. With the majority of drivers seemingly unaware of the new rules, the concerns originally expressed will become a reality with a potential increase in casualties.

Wheels in motion

Cyclists are advised to ride in the centre of lanes on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic and when approaching junctions. This is to ensure their safety and encourage drivers to give them more space. At the same time, cyclists have more responsibility to be aware of pedestrians.

Mixed messages

According to Yahoo News, more than half (52%) of those questioned by the AA had heard about the new rules, but not studied them.

10% of drivers aged 18-54 were completely unaware of the updates, compared with 5% of those aged 55 and above.

However, when asked to identify five correct statements in the updated Highway Code, the majority of respondents did so correctly.

Clear thinking

Tim Rankin, managing director of AA Accident Assist, says he is “concerned that so many still haven’t read the rules”. He adds that he’d “like more drivers to know the rules outright so they can keep themselves and others safe”.

“It is in everyone’s interest to take every measure that helps avoid collisions and remove confusion from the road, so we urge those that still haven’t read the updated Code to do so as soon as possible.”