The Department for Transport (DfT) has published a document summarising the new rules motorists, cyclists and pedestrians will need to pay attention to going forward.
The new regulations introduce a hierarchy of road users to ensure that “those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they pose to others.”
Motorist will need to look out for cyclists and pedestrians, while those on bikes will need to pay greater attention to those walking and horse riding, always being prepared to “slow down and stop if necessary.”
Under the new code, traffic will need to give precedence to people crossing at junctions, on zebra and parallel crossing.
To avoid hitting cyclists, drivers will also be required to adopt the Dutch Reach manoeuvre, which requires motorists and passengers to get out of their cars using the hand ‘on the opposite side to the door they are opening.”
The move will force people to turn their body and look over their shoulders to check for cyclists and pedestrians behind them.
The updates come into force just as million more drivers head back on the road following the relaxation of travel restrictions, potentially creating a dangerous mix for drivers that need time to adjust, commented Autoglass’s sales and marketing director Neil Atherton.
“For most drivers, the new rules of the road won’t feel particularly new, they are simply enshrining in law things that most considerate drivers will do anyway,” he said.
“However, there are new legal penalties for drivers that don’t give priority to cyclists and pedestrians at crossings and junctions, and it’s naturally going to take some time for drivers to adapt. “
According legal firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, the changes were not publicised enough and now risk creating confusion on the road.
“If the new rules aren’t publicised widely enough, there will be huge confusion, with some road users following the new regime at junctions, whilst others will be assuming the old rules still apply,” said Bolt Burdon Kemp’s associate solicitor Ben Pepper. “Everyone will become more vulnerable to accidents as a result.
“If the rules are to increase road safety for everyone, there needs to be a concerted campaign to raise awareness and promote them: we need more public information films, guidance posted on social media and newspapers urging people to check out the changes on the Government website.”