A recent survey by the AA has shown that only one in three of their customers were aware of the coming changes to the Highway Code, which have been brought in to protect the most vulnerable road users. The survey also worryingly revealed that 4% of those questioned had “no intention” of looking at the details.
Severe and catastrophic injuries on the roads
In 2021, there were an estimated 1,390 road deaths, with an estimated 24,530 killed or seriously injured. In the UK, an average of two cyclists die every week, and 83 are seriously injured on the roads. Of these, almost half (46%) of pedal cycle fatalities involved a car. In addition, 83% of cyclists killed or seriously injured between 2004 and 2020 were male.
When it comes to pedestrians, around 430 are killed on the UK’s roads every year.
NRC Medical Experts welcome the new rules
Dr Edmund Bonikowski, founder of NRC Medical Experts and a Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine with over 25 years of experience of caring for patients with acquired brain and spinal injury from road traffic accidents, welcomes the new rules.
“With road traffic collisions the most common cause of spinal injuries and the second most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, any changes that protect the most vulnerable road users from serious injury and death are welcomed.
Through my work in the NHS, I see first-hand the severe injuries caused on the roads. Brain and spinal injuries can affect nearly every part of a person’s life – from their understanding, perception, and ability to regulate emotions and behaviour to a whole range of very complex physical disabilities. Through the work of NRC Medical Experts, I also see our specialists providing expert witness testimony and clinical oversight for many individuals seriously injured on the UK’s roads – from car drivers, motorcyclists, and cyclists to pedestrians. As a keen cyclist myself, this extra protection through the new regulation is also reassuring.
Though it’s good to see that the number of road traffic collisions is gradually reducing, the impact of the catastrophic injuries people experience is life-changing and requires specialist neurorehabilitation.
Therefore, I urge everyone to review the changes to the Highway Code and work together to protect the most vulnerable road users.”
The new Highway Code rules
The new rules give cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders priory over larger vehicles – with those who can do the greatest harm given the greatest responsibility to reduce danger to others.
Under this new hierarchy of road users, drivers of lorries, vans, buses, cars and taxis must prioritise the safety of older adults, people with disabilities and children. This includes a new requirement for drivers at junctions, meaning that they must give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which the driver is turning.
The changes also give cyclists guidance to ride in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowings, and when in groups, cyclists can ride two abreast.
To reduce the number of accidents caused to cyclists, motorcyclists and people on the pavement, when exiting parked cars drivers and passengers users should open their doors using the opposite hand to the door they are opening – by doing so, they are forced to look over their shoulder before opening the door, preventing injuries to walkers and riders.
You can find all the new Highway Code rules at gov.uk.