Personal injury law firm predicts an increase in accidents and road rage following highway code changes
Manchester-based personal injury firm Express Solicitors have criticised the government for a lack of investment in publicity ahead of a launch of significant changes to the highway code this month that they predict could cause chaos on the roads. The law firm handles thousands of personal injury claims each year following road accidents and are concerned the new changes haven’t been effectively communicated to drivers – leading to a possible backlash for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.
Rachel Price, Partner in the Road Traffic Accidents department at Express Solicitors, said:
“We’re very concerned for the welfare of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists if motorists are not fully aware of the major changes to the Code. Drivers will now be obliged to give vulnerable road users the right of way in scenarios where previously the driver had the right of way.
“This might mean a pedestrian waiting to cross – who now has right of way, steps out to cross and the driver fails to slow down and stop, causing a serious accident.In areas of high congestion, for example outside schools, the changes could create frustration for motorists who experience longer delays due to the change in right of way.”
Cyclists could also be put at risk from unaware drivers as Price explains:
“Cyclists are being advised to cycle in the middle of the lane where possible and drivers are expected to leave them more room when overtaking. We know the sometimes fractious relationship between these road users and my worry is these Code changes will create more situations for road rage incidents to occur.
Only a third of drivers were aware of the new rules when asked in December in an AA poll, and there has been no real publicity from the government on this since then.” Price concludes: “To be clear, we fully support increasing protection for vulnerable road users. We unfortunately deal with so many serious and avoidable accidents so understand first hand the dangers on the road. However, these changes have not been adequately publicised, the government has failed to ensure that motorists are aware of their new obligations, and we predict a worsening situation before it gets any better.”
With significant changes to the Highway Code due to go live today, Saturday 29 January, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said:
“These changes to the Highway Code are substantial, so it’s vitally important they are communicated clearly. In theory, they should make our roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians, but unless everyone is aware of them, there’s a risk of angry clashes and, worse still, unnecessary collisions. Nobody wants to be on the right side of the Highway Code changes but in the back of an ambulance because of confusion on the part of a driver or any other road user.
“It’s vitally important drivers now go online to check what’s changed.”