Government Aims to Make Roads Safer for Pedestrians and Cyclists

Author:
Simon Stanfield
Partner, Head of Road Traffic Accidents
Date:
04/08/2021

Planned changes to the Highway Code designed to make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists have been unveiled.

The government has unveiled changes to the Highway Code, due to be published in autumn, which should give greater protection to pedestrians and cyclists.

Under the new system, cyclists will have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead.

Pedestrians will also be given greater priority on pavements, at crossings and when they’re waiting to cross the road.

Perhaps most significantly, the Highway Code will include a hierarchy of road users, based on the level of harm they could cause.

That means road users capable of doing the greatest harm will have the biggest responsibility to reduce the risk they may pose to others.

I am pleased that the vulnerability of pedestrians and cyclists has been recognised.

There were 570 deaths in the last year, and with improved driver standards and awareness of other road users this figure, it is hoped, will be dramatically reduced.

As Road Traffic Accident Solicitors, we regularly see the terrible impact that accidents can have on vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, as well as their families.

Pedestrians and cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users, as they don’t have the same level of protection as a motorist.

That means they can suffer much more severe injuries if they’re involved in an accident, such as life-changing brain and spinal injuries.

Yet more and more people are travelling on foot or by bike, a trend fuelled partly by the pandemic and also by environmental concerns.

So it’s important that the rules of the road reflect this new reality and provide more protection to the most vulnerable people.

At the same time, the government is investing in new infrastructure to make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists, with £338 million being put towards facilities such as new cycle lanes across the country.

According to the latest official figures, the number of miles cycled on roads in the UK went up by 45.7% to five billion last year. That’s a bigger increase than in each of the previous 20 years put together.

But as more and more of us turn to alternative forms of transport, it’s vitally important that regulations and infrastructure adapt in line with people’s habits to keep them as safe as possible.

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