Highway Code: This Morning panel debate changes to code

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According to a new survey of 2,000 motorists, only 46 percent correctly recognise pedestrians as having right of way at junctions. Two in five UK drivers believe that pedestrians only have priority when already crossing – making for a significant risk when crossing the road.

While this may seem trivial, Vanarama are warning drivers that those found to be driving carelessly or dangerously could be hit with severe consequences. 

If found to be driving dangerously, it can result in unlimited fines, 11 penalty points and even two years imprisonment.

Numerous Highway Code changes were introduced in January to improve road safety for all road users. 

This included sweeping changes for cyclists, the creation of a hierarchy of road users and improved safety for those most at risk.

The Highway Code is advisory, so non-compliance will not result in a fine, but drivers can still be hit with fines and other punishments if they are found to be breaking the law. 

Almost three in five Brits are also unaware that cyclists are now permitted to pass or overtake vehicles on both the left- and right-hand sides.

To ensure the safety of themselves and other road users, drivers should now be aware of cyclists approaching them on both sides – when stationary or in moving traffic.  

Mirrors and blindspots should be routinely checked.

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This was also addressed in the changes, with the introduction of the “Dutch Reach”. 

The technique involves all drivers and passengers in vehicles to open their door using the opposite hand so they look over their shoulder.

By doing this, they will have a greater view of the road behind them to see if any other vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians are travelling toward them. 

According to the Dutch Reach Project, the maximum “dooring zone” is 1.5 metres.

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Vanarama research also found that almost two thirds of drivers were unaware of cyclists should be positioned on a road.

Cyclists were given fresh guidance to ride in the centre of a lane on quieter roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions in order to make themselves as clearly visible as possible. 

In addition, they were reminded that they are also able to ride two abreast, as has always been the case and which can be safer in large groups or with children.

However, they must be aware of drivers behind them and allow them to overtake if it is safe to do so.

A Vanarama spokesperson also highlighted that one in six Britons did not know that triangle road signs give warnings.

They said: “It can be a tough task keeping up to date with the many UK road signs and their meanings, but one simple characteristic can simplify it somewhat – the shape of a sign.

“However, our results show that many motorists and road users aren’t even aware of the relevance of a sign’s shape. 

“One in six (16 percent) are unaware that triangular signs provide warnings on hazards such as a sharp bend.

“Circular signs give orders, such as speed limits. Red borders give instructions on what you are prohibited from doing, like speed limits which cannot be broken within the law, while blue-bordered circular signs tell you what you can do, such as turning left or right ahead. 

“Rectangular signs give information, for example, bus lanes and congestion charge zones.”

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