Are you aware that the government is introducing a series of changes to the UK’s Highway Code, that drivers on our roads need to read up on?
These changes are introducing a hierarchy of road users and the changes will see a greater level of responsibility being placed on those who can do the greatest damage, for ensuring the safety of other road users. This change will offer another layer of protection, in law, for more vulnerable road users like horse riders and cyclists.
Under these new rules, if you find yourself driving your car in close proximity to a horse and rider you, personally, as the vehicle driver will have a specific burden of responsibility to ensure the safety of that horse and rider. Of course, this doesn’t absolve the more vulnerable road users from looking out for their own safety, but if there is an incident that appears to involve your car, you are likely to carry the greater responsibility.
Is this actually a big change? Drivers of vehicles have always had a responsibility to ensure the safety of more vulnerable road users, but these proposed changes formalise that hierarchy, so there can be no doubt.
There are other changes, too. When negotiating a road junction, drivers will now be expected to make sure that no vulnerable road users, such as horse riders are either:
1/ crossing the junction
2/ waiting to cross the junction
3/ are approaching and likely to want to cross the junction.
In any of these 3 cases, you will now have to wait for a safe point for you to proceed to either turn into or out of the junction. In other words, the vulnerable road users will take priority.
So if you find yourself behind or next to a horse rider or cyclist whilst waiting to turn at a junction, you will have to wait for the horse rider or cyclist to go first.
A big change that will make a huge difference to the safety of riders on the roads is the new safe clearance distance. The previous rule of passing at a ‘safe’ distance was ambiguous and open to interpretation. That has now been clarified. A clearance of 2.0 metres should be allowed for passing horses, who should be passed at a MAXIMUM of 15mph.
If the required clearance distance isn’t possible on the road, you’ll have to wait until it is.
The new rules are currently going through the necessary governmental processes and are expected to be implemented later in 2021.