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Highway Code: 61% of drivers HAVE NOT read new rules, AA survey suggests

The motoring group surveyed 13,327 members, with almost two-thirds saying they have not read January's new rules...

A survey by the AA returned the concerning statistic that 61 per cent of motorists asked admitted they had not read the recent updates to the Highway Code, including advice for protecting vulnerable road users and giving cyclists and pedestrians priority at junctions.

The motoring association surveyed 13,327 members, with 8,090 (61 per cent) saying they had not read the changes made in January. Of the 8,090 not to have read the new rules, 6,972 (52 per cent) said they were aware of the changes but had not read them, while 1,118 (8 per cent) were completely unaware of them.

Highway Code.PNG

The managing director of AA Accident Assist, Tim Rankin, said the group is "concerned that so many still haven't read the rules".

> Highway Code changes: 'What about cyclists, or do the rules not apply to them?'

"While we are pleased that many of the changes can be successfully recalled, we'd like more drivers to know the rules outright so they can keep themselves and others safe," he said.

"It is in everyone's interest to take every measure that helps avoid collisions and remove confusion from the road, so we urge those that still haven't read the updated code to do so as soon as possible."

In January, a wide update of the Highway Code came into force, including guidance on safely overtaking cyclists, encouraging vehicle occupants to use the Dutch Reach technique to avoid dooring riders, and giving cyclists and pedestrians priority at junctions without traffic signals.

The new rules also established a hierarchy of road users aimed at making the roads safer for the most vulnerable, with those road users with the most potential to do harm told to protect those more vulnerable.

> Have Highway Code changes made drivers more aggressive?

The AA survey follows a June study which estimated more than 50 per cent of motorists were unable to even name one new rule. Weeks after that, and six months since the rules came into effect, the government finally launched a THINK! road safety campaign — titled 'Travel Like You Know Them' — to promote the changes.

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

One of the major criticisms of the government roll-out of the new rules was that they were not properly communicated to the public. Back in January a shadow minister said they will be "totally meaningless" if people are unaware, while the AA's head of roads policy Jack Cousens warned "too many drivers are unaware of the new rules of the road".

At the time, Cycling UK called for a long-term public awareness campaign to help produce a "mindset shift" on British roads.

Dan is the 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 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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wtjs | 1 year ago

There are occasions when those who purport to be new users reveal their true colours- colours distinguished by the holder's tendency to make things up to justify trolling assertions. The distinct uptick in dangerous driving incidents since the new rules came into effect indicates one such occasion. There has been no such 'uptick' because nobody, epecially the police, has paid any attention at all to the 'changes'

brooksby | 1 year ago

Had a wonderful chat* with a taxi driver the other day.  Walking into Broadmead in Bristol I went to cross a side road.  Could see a car approaching, two or even three car lengths away, so I walked out.

Except the car then halted rather abruptly, practically touching me as I was halfway across.

I knew exactly what had happened - the main road is one way, so the driver had approached the junction only looking to his right (to see if there was any oncoming motor traffic) and I had been approaching the road from his left (although I was in the middle of the road by the time he got to the actual give way line).

I shook my head in a disappointed fashion and he shouted at me, said what did I think I was doing?  I said that I'd been crossing before he got there, and anyone crossing or waiting to cross has priority over him.  He denied this.  I said it was in the Highway Code.  No it isn't.  Yes it is, you know it was updated recently?  No it wasn't.

I suggested in future he check for other road users, particularly pedestrians, rather than just checking for other cars.  He said something unprintable and put his foot to the floor as I walked away.


*Not a wonderful chat.

OldRidgeback replied to brooksby | 1 year ago

I had someone beep their horn at me on my commute home last week. I was turning into the road that leads to mine on my motorbike and then I stopped, as someone was crossing the road. The driver behind me meanwhile couldn't understand why I'd stopped and came very close to hitting the back of my motorbike.

brooksby replied to OldRidgeback | 1 year ago

OldRidgeback wrote:

I had someone beep their horn at me on my commute home last week. I was turning into the road that leads to mine on my motorbike and then I stopped, as someone was crossing the road. The driver behind me meanwhile couldn't understand why I'd stopped and came very close to hitting the back of my motorbike.

Clearly you were being self-entitled  3

eburtthebike | 1 year ago

Only 61% haven't read the new HC?  Those are AA members, so much more likely to have done so; the figure for the general population of drivers is probably more like 95%.

Simon E | 1 year ago

I bet that 98% of drivers haven't read the Highway Code since the day they passed their theory test (or for those of us who discarded our L-plates in the days before a separate theory test existed and your knowledge was 'tested' in the most perfunctory way by the examiner asking you a handful of random Qs).

I have to admit that I didn't really bother until my son started his driving lessons, although through cycling websites and forums I have read about the changes, learnt new things and been reminded of some rules and the  less commonly used signs I had forgotten about.

qwerty360 | 1 year ago

So 61% of drivers self report as incapable of complying with licencing requirements to keep up with changes to HW code...


Edit: And 11% don't read or watch any major news source given every single one had an article about how people couldn't possibly know the HW code had changed... (Making it impossible to tell them about changes short of sending every single driver a reminder letter on every HW code change...)

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