In October 2018 it was announced there would be an interim review of The Highway Code, focusing on vulnerable road users, such as horse riders. The consultation document is now seeking views on the proposed changes.

These changes include specific consideration on overtaking, passing distances, cyclist and pedestrian priority at junctions, opening vehicle doors and responsibility of road users, to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

There are three main changes that are being proposed through this consultation:

  1. Introducing a hierarchy of road users which ensures that those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.
  2. Clarifying existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements and that drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road.
  3. Establishing guidance on safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking cyclists or horse riders, and ensuring that they have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead

The objective of the hierarchy is not to give priority to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in every situation, but rather to ensure a more mutually respectful and considerate culture of safe and effective road use that benefits all users.

It is a concept which places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy. The road users most likely to be injured in the event of a collision are pedestrians, in particular children, older adults and disabled people, followed by cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists.

The code also states that the hierarchy does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly. It is important that ALL road users are aware of The Highway Code, are considerate to other road users and understand their responsibility for the safety of others.

The ‘Using the road’ chapter of The Highway Code will be updated to:

  • Reinforce the message that drivers have a duty of care towards cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders and should give way to these road users.
  • Establish clear priority rules at traffic signal junctions.
  • Provide advice on interactions between drivers and cyclists at roundabouts and at different types of junctions.
  • Introduce safe passing distances and speed limits when overtaking pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and motorcyclists – The specific advise is to pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 15 mph and allow at least 2 metres space.

Commenting on the proposed updates, Alan Hiscox, BHS director of safety, said: “I’m really chuffed. I hope riders and carriage drivers will see this as a really positive step. There’s a lot of good stuff in there for riders, including the Dead Slow messaging, and there’s really strong guidance to drivers as to how they should pass horses safely.”

Find out more about the specific changes and how to respond to this consultation here. The consultation period will run until midnight on 27 October 2020.

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