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Everything you need to know about the new changes to the Highway Code, and how they could affect road traffic accident claims. 
In recent weeks, the Department of Transport has proposed a number of changes to the Highway Code, set to come into force later this year. In this post, our road traffic accident specialists run through the new rules, and what they will mean for road traffic accident claims. 
 
These changes to the Highway Code come alongside the government’s focus on ensuring the safety of ‘vulnerable road users’. These road users, considered to be more at risk of suffering from serious injuries in a road traffic accident, include pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and horse riders. The Department of Transport organised a large-scale review off how these road users can be kept safe on our roads. 

These were the proposed changes from their review: 

1. A new hierarchy of road users will be introduced: 

This hierarchy of road users is set to identify the order in which different road users are likely to be seriously injured as a result of a road traffic accident. This proposed hierarchy is as follows: 
 
Vans and minibuses 
Larger passenger vehicles and heavy goods vehicles 
 
This hierarchy is simply set to bring more awareness to road users, and it is hoped that it will make people more alert as to the position of vulnerable road users, and more aware of the harm that they could do in a road traffic accident. 

2. New rules for pedestrians: 

As part of the changes, pedestrians will have a new right of way over drivers and cyclists at junctions and at the side of the road. As it currently stands, drivers must only give way to a pedestrian if the pedestrian has already begun crossing the road, or has entered the zebra crossing. 
 
However, under the new rules, drivers and cyclists must give way to pedestrians who are waiting at a side road, junction, or crossing. This gives pedestrians the main right of way on the roads, even when they are attempting to cross into oncoming traffic. 
 
This could well lead to an increase in the number of pedestrian road traffic accident claims that are made, as drivers will be more likely to be in the wrong under the Highway Code if they are involved in a collision with a pedestrian. 

3. New rules for cyclists: 

As well as an increased right of way for pedestrians on the road, drivers must give way to cyclists who are turning into junctions, out of junctions, or switching lanes, as well as at roundabouts. This change, in particular, could lead to an increase in cycling accident claims being made against drivers for collisions occurring at junctions. 
 
However, under the new hierarchy, pedestrians will now officially be classed as more vulnerable road users than cyclists. Therefore, much like drivers, cyclists will be advised to give way to pedestrians at junctions and when crossing the road. 
 
One aspect of cyclist accidents that are not set to change is there being no legal requirement for cyclists to have insurance to ride on the roads. This means that if a cyclist is to blame for an accident, it will still be very difficult to obtain financial compensation for any injuries as the other road user. 

How will these changes to the Highway Code affect road safety? 

These new changes to the Highway Code were set to give more rights to cyclists and pedestrians, as a result of the recent increases in the types of road users. It is part of a larger government initiative to protect vulnerable road users, including cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and horse riders. 
 
The newly created 'hierarchy of road users' will essentially place more of the responsibility on cars and larger vehicles to keep our roads a safe place, and prevent road traffic accidents from occurring. However, what the new rules will not do, is to take the responsibility off of vulnerable road users entirely. Cyclists, pedestrians, and horse riders will still be responsible for their own safety, and expected to act with diligence and care alongside other road users. 

What will the new Highway Code changes mean for road traffic accident claims? 

While the Highway Code alone is not enough to create a successful road traffic accident claim, a failure for a defendant to abide by the rules of the Highway Code can often be used to assist in a claimant’s road traffic accident claim, in order to help establish liability. 
 
In time, our road traffic accident solicitors will be able to tell whether these changes will have an effect on road traffic accident claims, but are tracking any developments, and are well prepared to both utilise or respond to the use of these changed in road traffic accident claims. 
 
When paired with the recent legislation governing the rules surrounding road traffic accident claims for personal injury compensation, these new changes could predict an increase in high-value cyclist accident claims, pedestrian accident claims, horse traffic accident claims, and motorcycle accident claims. 
 
If you have been involved in an accident as a vulnerable road user, and are looking to pursue a road traffic accident claim for personal injury, then our road traffic accident solicitors are here to help. Simply get in touch with us online, here, for a free, no-obligation discussion of your potential claim, and to see how our specialise accident solicitors can help. 
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