Experts criticise 'radical failure' to publicise major Highway Code changes

1 January 2022, 12:20 | Updated: 1 January 2022, 12:25

By Tim Dodd

Stop Killing Cyclists' Donnachadh McCarthy and former Top Gear presenter Steve Berry hit out at the lack of government publicity about major changes to the Highway Code that will come into force this month.

Major changes to the Highway Code requiring drivers to have more responsibility to look out for cyclists and pedestrians risk failing to boost safety due to not being widely promoted, campaigners have warned.

The Highway Code, which contains advice and rules for people on Britain's roads, is expected to be amended to introduce a risk-based hierarchy of road users if approved by Parliament on January 29.

For the first time, the law will require those who can do the greatest harm to others to have a higher level of responsibility to reduce the danger.

This means for example that someone driving will have more responsibility to watch out for people cycling, walking or riding a horse, and cyclists will have more responsibility to be aware of pedestrians.

"I do agree with what's been said about the lack of any publicity or promotion of what's being said here. Hardly anyone has noticed it, it's almost as if it's come in by stealth," said Mr Berry.

"Surely there should've been some sort of information campaign in the media to let people know this is happening. It's almost as if they want people to not know so they can fine them for breaking the law."

Read more: Highway Code to put pedestrians at the top of 'road user hierarchy'

Matthew Wright said that he was "genuinely concerned" if the changes weren't set to be publicised.

Stop Killing Cyclists co-founder Donnachadh McCarthy said: "We're all in agreement, this is unique on LBC... there is a radical failure to do the publicity campaign on this."

Other key amendments to the Highway Code include clearer guidance for drivers to leave a minimum distance of at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists, and instructing drivers to give way to pedestrians waiting to cross roads at junctions.

There will also be a recommendation for car users to reduce the risk of opening a door into the path of a cyclist by using the hand on the opposite side to the door, as this will often lead to them looking over their shoulder.

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A DfT spokesman said: "The proposed upcoming changes to the Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and were announced to national press.

"The department has established a working group of key organisations to ensure that messages about the changes are as widespread as possible and our well-established Think! campaign will continue to ensure all road users are aware both when these changes come into effect and beyond."