It’s less than a week since new Highway Code rules were introduced and already there is growing unease about their impact on road safety.
As a quick recap, the new rules give more rights to cyclists and pedestrians, putting the onus on drivers to ensure these ‘vulnerable road users’ are kept safe – that means allowing cyclists to ride in the middle of the road, only overtaking them at certain points, and giving pedestrians crossing a road at a junction priority.
The full changes can be found at here, but here are the basics:
The ‘hierarchy of road users’
- Horse riders
- Large passenger vehicles/HGVs
All members of the hierarchy must look out for those below them, to create ‘a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use’, the DfT says
At a junction, vehicles no longer have priority. You should give way to cyclists, horse riders or pedestrians crossing, or waiting to cross, a road that you may be waiting to turn in to.
Drivers and motorcyclists are not to cut across cyclists when turning in to or out of a junction, or when changing direction, or lane. From now on, drivers are meant to stop and wait for a safe gap when cyclists are:
- Near a junction
- Near stationary or slow-moving traffic
- On a roundabout.
The rules have already sparked huge debate because they appear, to many, to make the roads less safe than before – and in the case of the new laws regarding pedestrians at junctions, increase the likelihood of more rear-end shunts as a vehicle sits stationary in the road waiting for a pedestrian cross.
Then there are disputes fleets may have after an incident over whether drivers left safe passing distances and were going at slow enough speeds when overtaking vulnerable road users. Or whether they obeyed the rule which gives cyclists priority, and let them ride across their path, as they travel around the roundabout.
Headlines have spelt out concerns, calling the changes ‘dangerous’, ‘a shambles’ and ‘causing confusion’, and it’s not surprising: the change in hierarchy will take a long time to bed in. After all, when was the last time you read the Highway Code? Now, imagine millions of other road users of all types, some who are aware of the new rules, and others who aren’t.
While there are growing calls for the Highway Code to be revised again in light of these concerns, for now we are stuck with the current rules. So what can you do as a fleet manager to maintain safety, ensure you have evidence when an incident occurs, and reduce accident costs?
The simplest way is to install on-board cameras to record all business journeys – giving you instant proof whether your driver was in the right or wrong if an incident occurs.
Our new SmartCam 4G solution is designed to future-proof your fleet, integrating fleet vehicle tracking and a 4G cloud-based dashcam in one smart Android device.
This means it can not only provide easily and instantly downloadable camera evidence (stored either in the cloud or to an SD card), but also location tracking which, via telematics, can deliver details such as the vehicle’s status, and driver behaviour, at the time of any incident.
With many drivers still unaware of the new rules introduced in the updated Highway Code, having concrete evidence to understand your liability will be more important than ever before.