'New' Highway Code rule drivers don't understand could land them with £2,500 fine and points

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-Credit: (Image: PhotoAlto / Odilon Dimier via Getty)


Motorists are being warned of key changes to the Highway Code that could lead to them facing prosecution if they turn into a road incorrectly.

This comes following new data from the Department for Transport (DfT) showing an increase in pedestrian deaths in the UK. In 2023, a total of 407 pedestrians were killed, marking a rise from the 385 deaths reported in 2022 - this constitutes a 6% increase.

Select Car Leasing experts have stressed the importance of adhering to road rules for pedestrian safety, prompted by these alarming numbers. The firm reminds us that significant revisions were made to the Highway Code in 2022, aimed at enhancing the security of pedestrians, cyclists, and horse riders.

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One amendment introduced a 'Hierarchy of road users', positioning those most vulnerable at the top. A critical takeaway for drivers and cyclists from these changes is the obligation to give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross at a junction.

Mr Conway, Managing Director at Select Car Leasing, said: "If you're a motorist about to turn into a junction, and a pedestrian is either already crossing the road or is WAITING to cross, you need to give way and let them complete their journey. It's a crucial element of the Highway Code that is still misunderstood more than two years after it was implemented."

"Spend time online and you'll see some motorists complaining that pedestrian behaviours are getting worse and that they are prone to 'just walking into the road' without regard for their own safety. But this opinion could be coloured by the fact that some motorists still don't understand how pedestrians should be protected by the Highway Code."

If a motorist is guilty of attempting to turn into the path of a pedestrian, they could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention - which carries a fine up to £2,500 and between 3 and 9 penalty points.

The Highway Code itself is clear. It states: "When people are crossing or waiting to cross at a junction, other traffic should give way. If people have started crossing and traffic wants to turn into the road, the people crossing have priority and the traffic should give way."

Mr Conway adds: "If you're a driver who ends up remonstrating with a pedestrian who is in the middle of a road that you're trying to turn into, chances are you're very much in the wrong and the pedestrian is behaving correctly. And it's crucial that motorists' attitudes towards pedestrians are aligned with the Highway Code if we're going to improve those dreadful fatality statistics."

The rules that put pedestrians at the top of the traffic hierarchy also extend to cyclists - who, like the driver of a car, should also allow pedestrians to cross the road before continuing on their way. The Highway Code adds: "People driving, riding a motorcycle or cycling must give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing."

"A parallel crossing is similar to a zebra crossing, but includes a cycle route alongside the black and white stripes."

An RAC poll at the beginning of 2024 revealed how large numbers of UK drivers were still ignoring the Highway Code changes that protect pedestrians. The poll of 2,500 motorists showed that less than a quarter (23 per cent) of respondents claimed to 'always give priority to pedestrians at junctions', while 6 per cent said they never give way to pedestrians in such scenarios.