DfT’s Highway Code consultation

We all have less than a week to respond to DfT’s Highway Code consultation. Read Action Vision Zero’s (AVZ) draft response here and see also the points made by Cycling UK, Cambridge Cycling Campaign, Living Streets, RoadPeace and Chris Boardman, as well as the webinar organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Cycling and Walking. 

There is much to welcome in this draft with its greater priority given to protecting pedestrians and cyclists, and some to correct. As many will know from the online discussions about low traffic neighbourhoods, too many people still do not understand that traffic includes those walking and cycling, and is not just motor vehicles.

AVZ applauds the introduction of a hierarchy of responsibility. As we highlight in our response, the risk of road travel is not equally distributed. Department for Transport (DfT) statistics show that in 2019, a pedestrian was over 250 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a collision with a car than the car occupant. In a collision with a cycle and a car, a cyclist was 194 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than a car occupant (DfT, 2020)

Dangerous and careless driving

Whilst this shift in responsibility is very much appreciated, there is also room for improvement in this draft. There is still too much of an onus on people cycling, including with wearing a helmet and moving over to allow faster motor vehicles to overtake. AVZ will finalise our submission after reading the corrections proposed by the cycling and walking campaign organisations.

Our draft response highlights the lack of reference to careless and dangerous driving. We believe this is a major missed opportunity. AVZ has argued that examples in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charging standards for careless and dangerous driving should be included in the Highway Code, with explanation that in certain circumstances, these actions become dangerous driving. 

And the reality is that drivers are much more likely to be sanctioned for careless driving (driving without due care) than they are for dangerous driving. In 2018, there were almost 7 times as many drivers sanctioned for careless driving than dangerous driving (Home Office 2019, Ministry of Justice 2020).  And careless driving sanctions will increase with the growing use of third-party reporting (Operation Snap). AVZ has called for the Highway Code to inform drivers that the police can sanction drivers on the basis of camera footage submitted by the public.

Do not miss your chance to have your say and help get the Highway Code more fitting for a country promoting walking and cycling. Here’s the online survey.

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