Graham Hurdle, managing director of E-Training World, believes the Highway Code’s original purpose has been lost over the generations and feels the current version has become too subjective causing confusion when it should be an authoritative document for drivers and other road users.
“When the Highway Code was first produced to set out the rules of the road,” comments Graham, “this was so that road users understood what was expected of them.
“However, over the years it has expanded into more of a general purpose advice manual for road users - no longer just sticking to the rules. This leads to an inherent subjectivity, whereas in my view the Highway Code should be a short, clearly-defined statement of fact and not a guidance book in any way.
“After all, in terms of advice we already have the DSA Driving Manual (Driving Skills) and Roadcraft - the police driver’s handbook used by advanced drivers, emergency service drivers etc.”
Graham also points out that people have different views on what is the right or wrong way to do things and driving is no exception.
“Because the Highway Code is deemed to be the driver’s ‘bible’ people will naturally believe that every word it states is fact. But advanced drivers will tell you that there are certain guidelines within the Code that are not seen as best practice in terms of road safety and this leads to unnecessary confusion due to the Highway Code stepping into an area it wasn’t designed for.”
To support his argument, Graham cites some examples:
“In one section it tells drivers that ‘If driving a large vehicle in a tunnel, you should allow a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front’. That implies that it takes longer to stop in a tunnel compared to a dry road, which isn’t the case.
“It also states that ‘If you need to change lane, first use your mirrors and if necessary take a quick sideways glance’, but how would a driver know if it was necessary to take a sideways glance unless he or she did so?
“This is where subjectivity creeps in and dilutes the important elements of the publication. I feel the Highway Code should return to being a factual reference book about road laws, markings and signs otherwise I can see the level of guidance expanding making it increasingly subjective, which will ultimately lead to a growing lack of acceptance of its credibility within the driver training community.”