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More than half of drivers could be at risk of £1,000 fine

Rush hour traffic

Legal firm Slater and Gordon is warning that more than half of drivers (56%) are at risk of falling foul of changes to the Highway Code, risking a fine of up to £1,000.

Significant changes to the Highway Code are set to be introduced from tomorrow (Saturday, January 29), but worryingly there drivers failed to correctly identify what the new rules were, leaving them at significant risk of prosecution.  

The driving law changes see vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, take priority over vehicle users for the first time.

Under the latest changes, drivers will have to give priority to cyclists, pedestrians, motorbike users and horse riders who are waiting to cross a road the driver wishes to turn into.  

Additional rules include: all traffic must stop for pedestrians waiting to cross; cars indicating to turn left or right must give way to cyclists coming from behind and going straight on; cyclists can ride wherever they feel safest, even if that is in the middle of the road; drivers must wait for cyclists to pass and treat as if the cyclist is a motor vehicle; and poor driving decisions are more punishable with local authorities able to prosecute driving in box junctions and failure to give way. 

Under the new hierarchy of road users, pedestrians are placed at the top, followed by cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists and cars. Vans, HGVs and buses find themselves at the bottom of the list. 

Of the 44% of people that are aware that the rules are changing, according to the Slater and Gordon research, two in five drivers (39%) said they would turn into the road as they believe it is their right of way, meaning they would be liable in the event of an accident.

Almost one in five (18%) believe that under the new rules, pedestrians are to be placed at the bottom of the hierarchy. This however comes as no surprise as 23% admit to not having looked at the Highway Code in at least a decade. 

Tracey Benson, head of serious Injury at Slater and Gordon, said: “It is crucial all road users educate themselves about the new hierarchy and how they now need to conduct themselves whilst using the road.

“Failure to do so could quickly result in a driving ban and significant fines, never mind injuries to other road users. It’s essential to stay up to date with the Highway Code, no matter how long you’ve been driving and not to be complacent.”   

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