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"Protect those most at risk": Highway Code changes promoted as government launches 'Travel Like You Know Them' campaign

One of the major criticisms of January's updated Highway Code was the lack of publicity to inform the public...

The government has launched its latest THINK! road safety campaign — titled 'Travel Like You Know Them' — to promote changes to the Highway Code aimed at protecting vulnerable road users.

January's Highway Code changes, amongst other things, introduced a hierarchy of road users, placing those most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy e.g. pedestrians are at the top as the most vulnerable, followed by cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists. 

In other words, those able to do the greatest harm should reduce their danger to more vulnerable road users. The hierarchy was accompanied by updates giving pedestrians priority when crossing the road at junctions, and cyclists priority over road users waiting to turn when travelling straight ahead at a junction.

However, the roll-out of the changes saw the government criticised for failing to inform the public, with an AA poll just days before they came into effect showing one-in-three members were unaware of the new rules. 

> Highway Code changes: Cycling UK calls for long-term public awareness campaign to help produce a "mindset shift" on British roads

Three days prior to the changes coming in the Department for Transport announced the launch of a £500,000 publicity campaign operated by long-standing road safety campaign THINK! with promises for publicity campaigns to continue through the summer.

Travel Like You Know Them campaign (THINK! / Department for Transport)

Today's announcement of 'Travel Like You Know Them' will, the Department for Transport says: "Encourage positive behaviour on roads and protect those most at risk."

The campaign aims to change the focus on people making journeys, not vehicles, and promote the Highway Code changes.

"'Travel Like You Know Them' speaks to everyone who uses the road, with an emphasis on motorists and those who have a greater responsibility to reduce the risk they may pose to others, as per Highway Code's new hierarchy of road users," the Department for Transport said.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere added: "People tend to see cycles, lorries and cars on the roads rather than thinking of the person using them – but it could be your family member, your friend or your colleague.

Travel Like You Know Them campaign (THINK! / Department for Transport)

"We have some of the safest roads in the world but I am determined to make them even safer, particularly as more people choose to walk, cycle and ride for their journeys.

"This campaign encourages everyone to see the person behind the wheel or handlebars, to build more understanding of others on the road, and help keep everyone safe."

The government department says it will continue to clarify changes, including cycling positioning, junction priority for pedestrians and cyclists, safe passing distances and speeds, as well as the Dutch Reach.

Chief executive of Brake, Mary Williams OBE, said: "On behalf of road victims and everyone who uses roads, Brake is a passionate supporter of the government's THINK! campaign, and its focus on driver behaviour and protection of those most at risk, particularly people on bicycles and walking.

"The Highway Code's new hierarchy of road users is a vital step forwards that everyone can help promote, particularly to drivers, to prevent tragedies on roads."

Last month, a study of 2,000 UK-based motorists found more than 50 per cent were unable to identify a single new Highway Code rule.

> Majority of drivers unaware of Highway Code changes, new study suggests

In addition, 68 per cent did not know that they should give way to pedestrians crossing side roads or waiting to cross a junction.

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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23 comments

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wtjs | 2 years ago
7 likes

This campaign is worthless junk, when the police are intent on avoiding the only thing that works against anti-social and dangerous driving: enforcement with points and fines. The Tory government and all the Tory hyper-junk press devotees are intent on frightening all those inconvenient cyclists and pedestriands off the roads by allowing them no protection at all.

None of the regulars on here will be deceived by this worthless insincere propaganda: the only thing Sainsbury's drivers like this, when in control of 44-tonner YN67 MVJ, understand is a deterrent penalty, not exhortations to drive more considerately 

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SimoninSpalding | 2 years ago
9 likes

Cynicism is easy (just like pedantry!) but actually the general message to this campaign is the correct approach to take. Humanise all road users and treat them with respect.

Of course it has its limits. Like the bellend in a white BMW 1 series just outside Peterborough yesterday afternoon who approached a roundabout in the right hand lane and then cut across everyone to turn left (in order to pass approximately 5 cars doing 20mph on the approach). I would disown him if I knew him.

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belugabob replied to SimoninSpalding | 2 years ago
0 likes
SimoninSpalding wrote:

Cynicism is easy (just like pedantry!) but actually the general message to this campaign is the correct approach to take. Humanise all road users and treat them with respect.

Of course it has its limits. Like the bellend in a white BMW 1 series just outside Peterborough yesterday afternoon who approached a roundabout in the right hand lane and then cut across everyone to turn left (in order to pass approximately 5 cars doing 20mph on the approach). I would disown him if I knew him.

Rather than use the roundabout to effect a left turn, but in a non- dangerous way - seen this many times

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Velo-drone replied to SimoninSpalding | 2 years ago
0 likes

Fully agree. This light years better than the totally disastrous TfL garbage.

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eburtthebike | 2 years ago
13 likes

Well, I suppose it is an attempt to make people think, and it's almost certainly worth doing, but are the anti-cycling attitudes so entrenched that it will take a generation and lots more social persuasion to achieve change?  Certainly vastly better than other Think! campaigns which focussed exclusively on the behaviour of the victims, so this could be an indication of the DfT finally realising that the problem isn't the cyclists/pedestrians/motorcyclists, but drivers.

I hope that this is the first of many such attempts to change attitudes, and that subsequent ones are much harder hitting.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere

"We have some of the safest roads in the world but I am determined to make them even safer, particularly as more people choose to walk, cycle and ride for their journeys."

Safe for drivers perhaps, but vulnerable users, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists have been intimidated off the roads.

 

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lonpfrb replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
2 likes
eburtthebike wrote:

Well, I suppose it is an attempt to make people think, and it's almost certainly worth doing, but are the anti-cycling attitudes so entrenched that it will take a generation and lots more social persuasion to achieve change?

The toxic attitudes of the mainstream media are the responsibility of:

"The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) helps to drive growth, enrich lives and promote Britain abroad."

So Baroness Vere needs to have a word with Nadine Dories about what DCMS must do to join up Active Travel with DfT.

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HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
2 likes

Does the rule about giving way to people on foot at side roads also apply to roundabout exits?

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hawkinspeter replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
6 likes

HarrogateSpa wrote:

Does the rule about giving way to people on foot at side roads also apply to roundabout exits?

Yes

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HarrogateSpa replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
1 like

No one gives way to me at a roundabout exit I regularly cross.

Is there a source to confirm what you say, or do you think the wording of the HC alone is sufficiently clear?

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Hirsute replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
7 likes

Rule 187

In all cases watch out for and give plenty of room to

  • pedestrians who may be crossing the approach and exit roads

 

neal ashley did a video on it too. Apparently he is an authority (though he doesn't know much about cycling)

 

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quiff replied to Hirsute | 2 years ago
1 like

The difficulty though is that the wording you've quoted from Rule 187 (roundabouts) was not changed in the recent HC changes, and is now out of kilter with the updated Rule 170 (junctions). So while the updated Rule 170 now says you should give way to pedestrians who are crossing or waiting to cross a road into / from which you are turning, Rule 187 still only refers to pedestrians crossing, leaving people confused about whether they should also give way for those waiting to cross at a roundabout.   

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IanMK replied to hawkinspeter | 2 years ago
2 likes

Actually, I was going to go with No. Although there's presumably a rule against running people over if they attempt it smiley

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brooksby replied to IanMK | 2 years ago
10 likes

IanMK wrote:

Actually, I was going to go with No. Although there's presumably a rule against running people over if they attempt it smiley

Isn't that a fundamental principle of 'being on the road'?  Basically, everything in the HC can be reduced to "Don't cause anyone else harm, and definitely don't kill anyone".  If that pedestrian walks out across the road, it doesn't matter whether you think that they shouldn't have, or that you have priority, you damn well slow or stop.  'Priority' doesn't give carte blanche to just run people down...

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HoarseMann replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
13 likes

Yes it does, but the Highway Code is far from clear about this and there're a lot of drivers who would not even consider that they ought to give way.

Like the elderly lady who was driving behind me when I slowed on a roundabout to let a jogger cross the exit road. Much gesticulating I viewed in my rear mirror, shaking of the head, throwing up of the hands etc. Then 2 mins later, in slow traffic on the high street, she's on her mobile prodding away at the screen like she's sending a message!

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Troon replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
1 like

It's very unclear and should be explicitly called out one way or the other in the HC beyond the "watch out for" in rule 187. I'm going to go against the grain and say "no", as there are no markings on roundabout exits — they are not a "junction" as such in my opinion, but a continuation of the road you have joined at the roundabout entrance.

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HoarseMann replied to Troon | 2 years ago
3 likes

Troon wrote:

there are no markings on roundabout exits — they are not a "junction" as such in my opinion

A roundabout is its own carriageway, separate from the roads that adjoin it. Every entry & exit to the roundabout carriageway is a junction in its own right.

The presence or absence of markings across the junction has no bearing on the need to give way to pedestrians crossing.

But it is not adequately described in the HC.

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Velo-drone replied to HarrogateSpa | 2 years ago
0 likes
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quiff replied to Velo-drone | 2 years ago
0 likes

Interesting. Odd that they didn't update Rule 187 too (which did have other changes added to it) to make that clearer.  

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brooksby replied to Velo-drone | 2 years ago
2 likes

Velo-drone wrote:

The man from the DVSA, he say "yes it do" https://despatch.blog.gov.uk/2022/01/26/changes-to-the-highway-code/#com...

Those comments... <shakes head sadly>

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ktache replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
1 like

A lot, seemingly, from driving instructors/examiners...

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brooksby | 2 years ago
20 likes

Oooo...  You mean treat cyclists as if they are actual normal human beings with lives and families?  Radical stuff.

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ktache replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
7 likes

I don't think they are going quite that far...

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IanMSpencer replied to brooksby | 2 years ago
7 likes

Remember my friend Jo and her appearance on CountryFile. This was exactly the point of her campaign, so whether it inspired the DoT or it was independently thought up, it's a good step forward.

Hopefully the lady who got into a tizz with us because she was late for school pickup (and couldn't pass us on a narrow lane with no verge even if we wanted to be helpful to someone revving and spinning tyres in gravel), but then chose to argue the toss rather than go past when we gave way at a passing point might learn something.

Got a few gems, including the foul-mouthed tirade from van driver who gave me a fright when he overtook into an oncoming car and it was my fault as he NEEDED to get past (I was doing 18 in a 20 limit with traffic calming). I think he was pissed judging by his breath that I could smell as he pulled off again.

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