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Why Highway Code Changes Could Have Limited Benefits

Highway rule changes may not improve safety.

Driving can be tricky, even for seasoned drivers. Keeping up with the ever-changing Highway Code rules is like trying to nail jelly to the wall! These updates are supposed to boost road safety, but sometimes it feels like they do the opposite. So, let’s dive into why recent Highway Code changes may not always hit their target, along with the implications for UK drivers. We will also highlight how you can start a road traffic accident claim.

Understanding the New Highway Code Hierarchy of Road Users

One of the most significant Highway Code changes is the introduction of a “hierarchy of road users.” This system essentially ranks road users based on their vulnerability. Pedestrians top the list, followed by cyclists, horse riders, motorcyclists, and then cars, with goods vehicles at the bottom.

So, what does this mean? The idea is that users higher in the hierarchy (those most at risk of harm) should be given priority by those further down. It places a greater responsibility on larger vehicle drivers to protect more vulnerable road users.

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Highway Code Updates: Good Intentions, Confusing Results

In principle, creating a system more mindful of vulnerable road users makes total sense. On paper, this should lead to safer roads for pedestrians and cyclists, right? Well, the reality can be different.

For starters, awareness of the new rules among the general public is… let’s say, patchy. A lot of drivers remain unaware of the changes or misunderstand the details. This leads to unpredictable scenarios where some drivers follow the new rules, while others don’t, causing more confusion than clarity.

Unfortunately, confusion on the road can be a recipe for accidents.

Highway Code Controversy: Does the Hierarchy Protect or Endanger?

Here’s where things get especially dicey. Some critics argue the hierarchy of road users itself is flawed. Sure, protecting vulnerable users is important, but does that mean pedestrians and cyclists have zero responsibility for their own safety?

This approach could (unintentionally) encourage risky behavior from some cyclists and pedestrians, assuming they always have the right of way. All road users – regardless of their position in the hierarchy – need to behave responsibly. The Highway Code changes shouldn’t become an excuse for recklessness from anyone.

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Highway Code Changes And Driver Concerns: Feeling Unfairly Targeted

Some drivers feel these changes unfairly skew the balance against them. Before the hierarchy, the Code stressed the responsibility of all road users, whereas now it feels heavily weighted towards drivers having the most accountability.

This can create resentment among drivers who feel they’re automatically presumed to be at fault in any incident, even when they’re not. A healthy system needs balance, with all road users sharing the responsibility of keeping things safe.

Highway Code Updates: What They Mean for Accidents And Liability

Unfortunately, accidents still happen, even with the best intentions. The hierarchy system can complicate assessing fault in an accident involving a driver and a more vulnerable road user. In the past, both parties would share some degree of responsibility. Now, the burden of proof may shift more heavily toward the driver to demonstrate they were not at fault.

This is where things get particularly important if you’re ever involved in an accident. If you’re a driver, having evidence to support your version of events is more crucial than ever – this could include dashcam footage or witness accounts.

Are the Highway Code Changes Positive or Negative?

Not at all! The intention behind these changes – improving safety for vulnerable road users – is absolutely admirable.

Greater public awareness through ongoing campaigns and education programs is crucial. Plus, instead of a strict hierarchy, fostering a sense of shared responsibility among all road users would create a safer, fairer environment for everyone.

Making a Road Traffic Accident Claim with National Claims Helpline

The recent Highway Code changes, while well-intentioned, can make navigating the aftermath of a road traffic accident more complex. With the increased emphasis on driver responsibility and potential confusion surrounding the ‘hierarchy of road users,’ establishing fault after an accident in a busy urban area can be a challenge.

If you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident – as a pedestrian, cyclist, or driver – the team at National Claims Helpline is here to provide clear guidance and fight for your right to compensation. We have extensive experience dealing with the unique complexities of city driving accidents and understand the impact the new Highway Code rules can have on these cases.

Free Consultation

Let’s begin with a free consultation to discuss your experience. We’ll carefully assess your accident’s circumstances, considering factors like congestion, other road users, and the potential implications of the revised Highway Code. This will help us advise you on the strength of your claim.

*No Win, No Fee

At National Claims Helpline, we believe financial concerns shouldn’t prevent you from seeking justice. That’s why we work on a “No Win, No Fee” basis. You don’t pay upfront legal fees, and our fees are only due if your claim is successful. This lets you pursue your case without added financial pressure.

*Customers pay up to 25% (incl. VAT) of the amount recovered towards solicitor costs and if you cancel outside your cooling off period, you may be charged a fee.


The recent Highway Code changes have a noble aim – to make our roads a safer place for everyone, especially the most vulnerable users. However, good intentions don’t always translate perfectly into reality. The focus now needs to shift towards comprehensive public education and fostering a sense of shared responsibility among all road users.

The hierarchy of road users shouldn’t become a blame game but rather a starting point for promoting mutual respect and awareness on the roads. If used as a tool for collaboration, rather than a source of division, these changes have the potential to make a real, positive impact on road safety for everyone.

Contact us today to speak to one of our claims agents who will be able to help you get started on your claim.

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