In 2021, the government recognised that there was a need to improve road safety for the more vulnerable road users. The Department for Transport therefore proposed changes to the Highway Code that included a ‘hierarchy’ of road users.

The Hierarchy

At the top of the hierarchy are the most vulnerable of road users: pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists.

Road users, such as cars/taxis, vans/minibuses, large passenger vehicles and HGVs, bear the greatest responsibility for ensuring they do not endanger the most vulnerable road users.

Giving Way to Pedestrians & Cyclists

The proposals in relation to giving way to pedestrians are:

  • At a junction you should give way to pedestrians who are crossing or waiting to cross a road you are turning into or from which you are turning.

  • You MUST give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing

  • You MUST give way to cyclists and pedestrians on a parallel crossing

  • You should give way to the above if they are waiting to cross on their respective crossings.

  • Cyclists should give way to pedestrians on shared cycle/pedestrian tracks

  • Only pedestrians and wheelchairs/mobility scooters should use the pavement.

In relation to cyclists, the proposals are:

  • You should not cut across cyclists who are going ahead, whilst they are turning into or out of a junction or when changing lanes and you should give way to them.

  • You MUST not turn at a junction if to do so would cause the cyclist who is going straight ahead, to swerve or stop.

  • You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if you have to. This includes the situation where cyclists are:

    o Approaching, passing or moving off from a junction

    o Moving past or waiting alongside stationary or slow-moving traffic flows

    o Travelling at a roundabout

Safe Passing Distances

Finally, the government continue to highlight the need for road users to adhere to the guidelines in relation to safe passing distances for drivers when passing cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders and pedestrians. The guidelines are:

  • Leave a minimum of 1.5m at speeds of under 30mph

  • Leave a minimum of 2.0m at speeds of over 30mph

  • Large vehicles should always leave a minimum 2.0m distance

  • When overtaking horse riders, you should travel at no more than 15mph and allow a minimum of 2.0m distance

  • Allow 2.0m when a pedestrian is walking in the road, when there is no pavement

  • Always take extra care when in bad weather

While we all have responsibility for our own behaviour when on the road, a bus or HGV driver’s failure to pay attention carries far greater risks to others than a pedestrian’s, so of course those in charge of larger vehicles should take the greatest share of responsibility to reduce the danger they pose.

The truth is that most of us don’t regularly read the Highway Code unless we drive professionally or are about to take a driving test. Thankfully, the Highway Code no longer treats HGV drivers and pedestrians as if they are equally responsible for their own and other’s safety. Pedestrians are the ones who cause the least danger when on the roads but are often left paying the price.

The hope is that these changes will decrease the number of road traffic accidents, in particular those involving vulnerable road users.

At Farleys, we operate the majority of our personal injury cases on a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement. If you or a friend/family member has been injured in an accident, contact one of our experienced team for a no obligation assessment of your case on 0845 287 0939 or complete our online contact form.