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

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

A new study suggests a concerningly high number of UK motorists are unaware of January's changes to the Highway Code, with more than 50 per cent unable to even name one new rule.

The study by Vertu Motors into the Highway Code knowledge of 2,000 drivers found that more than 50 per cent of UK motorists surveyed are unable to identify one of the changes to the Highway Code.

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

Research by the AA in the weeks leading up to the changes being implemented at the end of January found that two in three drivers were unaware of the forthcoming changes, suggesting the number has fallen slightly in the six months since.

However, it was not just knowledge of the new rules. Vertu Motors also questioned motorists on well-established Highway Code content too, finding only half of drivers surveyed were aware that the national speed limit on the motorway is 70mph, while 23 per cent admitted to exceeding this.

Furthermore, only 38 per cent said they knew to leave at least a two-second gap between their vehicle and the one in front.

These numbers are, of course, nothing new. Research two years ago by Admiral found that nine in 10 road users have not read the Highway Code in the past three years, while four in 10 have not looked at it for more than 20 years.

Commenting on the Vertu Motors research the CEO of RED Driving School, Seb Goldin, told Fleet World: "The government was very slow in advising drivers about these changes to the Highway Code and it seems the message is still not getting across."

Poor awareness of the changes was talked about widely during the run up to their introduction in January, with the government coming under heavy criticism for the little publicity the changes aimed at protecting vulnerable road users had received.

At the end of 2021, Cycling UK urged the government to launch a properly funded and ongoing awareness campaign to "right the misunderstanding on our roads".

Ultimately, the Department for Transport did announce the launch of a £500,000 publicity campaign to raise awareness (three days before the changes were due to come into effect).

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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