The recent Highway Code changes, applicable since January 29th, 2022, don’t only affect the transport industry. They impact any driving for work or business that occurs in a variety of sectors. If your employees drive for work, breaking the rules could cost them the ability to carry on doing so.
The Government has reviewed traffic rules with the aim to better protect the most vulnerable road users. The Highway Code changes in effect include three new rules that establish a “hierarchy of road users”. We will discuss them below.
Failure to follow these rules could result in fines and points, and ultimately cost drivers their licence. If essential for their jobs, losing the right to drive could prevent them from fulfilling their job duties.
Ask our advisors how the Highway Code changes can affect your business, on 01455 858 132.
What is the Highway Code?
The Highway Code is a set of rules that govern the use of public roads, under UK law. Many of these rules represent legal requirements and breaking them is a criminal offence. As a result, drivers risk fines, penalty points or even going to prison if they disregard these rules.
The code aims to keep road users safe by avoiding incidents and accidents. Statistical data up to June 2021 shows an overall decreasing number of casualties on UK roads. Government reports indicate an 11% decrease for the year ending June 2021 compared to the previous one. Also, a decrease of 9% in casualties of all severities was recorded. Traffic itself only decreased by 5% as compared to year ending June 2020, so we are seeing a positive trend.
However, it doesn’t mean that UK roads couldn’t become safer. That seems to be the take of the 2022 Highway Code changes.
What are the most significant Highway Code changes?
The Highway Code changes refer to new precautions that road users need to observe going forward. The situations mentioned gravitate around using mobile phones behind the wheel, priority at junctions, and other vehicles overtaking cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians.
These new rules, in effect starting end of January 2022, are based on the new “hierarchy of road users”. Those most at risk from a possible collision occupy the top of the hierarchy – cyclists, horse riders, pedestrians. This also means that those lower in the hierarchy represent a higher risk for the ones at the top. For example, if a car hits a pedestrian or a cyclist in a junction, they risk causing significant injuries or even death.
Highway Code changes in 2022 - examples
Let us look at some of the aspects that these new regulations refer to:
- Crossing at junctions
Pedestrians have priority when they cross at junctions. If they proceed to cross, all other traffic must stop and wait. Cyclists need to give them priority too.
- Pedestrians, cyclists or horse riders in shared spaces
Any vehicle user in these spaces need to make sure they take precautions. They should avoid approaching pedestrians at high speed, particularly from behind. Also, they need to signal their approach, and remember that some road users might be deaf or blind.
- Overtaking cyclists and horse riders
The new code mentions a significant increase of the space the driver needs to leave between their vehicle and other road users. This also applies to motorcycle riders. They need to leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at speeds up to 30mph, more at higher speeds.
- Cycling at junctions
One regulation that stands out says that cyclists should position themselves at junctions as if driving a vehicle. This means they need to occupy the middle of their chosen lane, if safe to do so. The code explains that this will make them more visible to other members of the traffic.
- Using mobile phones behind the wheel
Drivers can continue to use hands-free devices for navigation purposes and phone calls. However, it is now against the law to select a song in their playlist or play a game, even if stopped at the traffic lights.
On their website, the Government has highlighted the eight most important changes that road users need to be aware of.
What do the Highway Code changes mean to employers?
At a first glance, you might wonder how this new set of rules will impact your business, if at all. It might not be that obvious, but fines, points and loss of driving licence can impact on a staff member’s ability to perform their responsibilities.
Let’s say a line manager needs to attend regular meetings at different locations. If they lose their driving licence, their travelling for work abilities will become restricted. They will not be able to reach sites in areas with scarce public transport.
Industries such as health & social care need to prepare their employees. Lack of awareness about the changes can have a devasting impact on both workers and the people they care for. If a domiciliary care worker loses their driving licence, the service will be at risk of understaffing. This can result in vulnerable service users facing neglect.
Think of how you can inform your employees and support them with staying safe on the roads. It will benefit both your company and them on the long run.
Talk to a Croner advisor
Once we hold a driving licence for many years, habits form. Those habits might not always prove the best ones, particularly when legal requirements change for road users. The first step in creating better habits comes with awareness of what’s at stake. That motivates us to improve our knowledge, skills and habits.
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