A poll conducted by NFU Mutual has found that 57% of Brits are not aware of Highway Code changes coming into force tomorrow with particular importance in rural areas.
The poll, conducted on Twitter by leading rural insurer NFU Mutual, calls into question whether the majority of road users will be familiar with the Highway Code when it changes on 29th January.
The updated Highway Code brings in a hierarchy of road users, in which the road users most capable of doing harm have the greatest responsibility to ensure safety, although the Code is clear that all road users must regard their and other road user’s safety.
Advising road users to find out about the Highway Code changes sooner rather than later, Dave Rossall, Head of Motor Claims at NFU Mutual, said, “Although NFU Mutual members will see no change in their cover over the Highway Code changes, the implications of the changes on determining liability in insurance claims will only become clear over time.
“At NFU Mutual, we do all we can to support our members when they need us most, but the best protection from personal and financial harm is ultimately to do everything possible to avoid accidents. This starts by respecting road safety and fellow road users.
“Our advice is to protect yourself and others by respecting fellow road users and familiarising yourself with the updated Highway Code as soon as possible.”
Rural road safety
NFU Mutual has called on all road users to see the updated Highway Code as an opportunity to focus on rural road safety.
As the leading rural insurer, with local Agents living and working in hundreds of communities across the country, NFU Mutual is well aware of the pressing and continuing need to promote safety on rural roads.
Last year, NFU Mutual launched its Respect Rural Roads campaign. Supported by the British Horse Society, British Cycling and the Department for Transport, the campaign aims to make rural roads a safer shared space for all road users.
Analysis of official figures conducted for the campaign showed that, between 2018 and 2020, rural roads saw 66% more fatalities than urban roads. The analysis also found that vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians are significantly more likely to be killed or seriously injured than those in cars or taxis. Despite making up only 2.6%2 of overall traffic, the former group is involved in 19% of all rural road collisions.
Other new or amended measures include:
Discussing the changes to the Highway Code, Jade Devlin, rural road safety specialist at NFU Mutual, said, “As the Highway Code changes, we want to remind all road users to take this opportunity to look at what they can do to improve the safety of our rural roads.
“With walkers, cyclists, horse riders and motorists sharing often-challenging rural roads, it is vital that every road user shows due respect and consideration for their fellow road users.
“Our beautiful countryside is one of our greatest shared assets, and rural roads a vital connection to rural communities. By taking the simple actions now enshrined in the Highway Code, such as maintaining a respectful speed, giving vulnerable road users as much space as those in motor vehicles, and being aware of the danger we can pose to fellow road users, we can continue to make rural roads a truly shared resource to be enjoyed by everyone.”
Paul Loughlin, solicitor specialising in motoring law at Stephensons said, “There still appears to be an uncertainty surrounding how these new rule changes will be acted on by road users and how they will be enforced by authorities.
“The concern is whether motorists and other road users are aware of these new rules and what they mean. Whilst the volume has been gradually turned up, I’m still unsure whether the message is actually being heard. Without better education and awareness, we could see swathes of motorists breaking the law and with that an inconsistency in knowledge from one road user to another, and potentially even a short term increase in accidents.”