Highway Code changes that give cyclists priority over drivers could cause 'confusion' among unaware motorists, warns AA

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A cyclist rides beside a car on a busy road in London - Jamie Lorriman

Highway Code changes giving cyclists priority over drivers could cause "confusion and dangerous situations", the AA has warned as polling found two thirds of drivers were not aware of the incoming rules.

The new code is set to come into force on January 29 and means motorists will have to give way to cyclists and pedestrians at junctions.

The motoring organisation called on the Government to undertake an urgent education effort in the coming weeks to make drivers aware of the “fundamental changes” coming to the rules of the road.

The revised code is due to bring in a new hierarchy of responsibility based on how vulnerable a road-user is.

This means cyclists will have to act to reduce the danger to pedestrians on the road, while cars will have to reduce the danger for pedestrians and cyclists.

It also means that pedestrians and cyclists will have right of way at junctions. Under the old code, pedestrians only had right of way at a junction if they were already on the road. Under the new rules, cars and bikes will have to give way if a pedestrian is waiting to cross a road they are turning into. Likewise, cars looking to turn left or right at a junction will have to wait and give way to cyclists behind them, who want to go straight on, and only turn once they have passed.

A survey of 13,000 AA members found that only a third (33 per cent) knew the changes were being introduced, with a fifth (20 per cent) believing such plans were outright “false”’.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “With such fundamental changes to the Highway Code taking place to make our roads safer, we need to ensure road users understand the new rules ahead of time.

“Getting the message out now would help avoid dangerous situations and remove any confusion on the roads before the new rules are adopted.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “The proposed upcoming changes to The Highway Code will improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and were widely reported when they were announced earlier this year.”

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