Any sensible road user knows that we all owe the same duty of care to one another. Everyone needs to take reasonable care to not cause injury or damage to other road users.
There is currently no higher duty of care expected of lorry drivers, than there is of any other road user. However, this is likely to change soon, with new rules expected to be brought into the Highway Code for the first time in years.
The new rules will include an introduction to the new hierarchy of road users. These rules are set to place the emphasis on those who can do the greatest damage, ensuring that they will bear the greatest responsibility for the safety of all other road users.
These proposed changes aim to improve the safety of vulnerable road users. Currently, the Highway Code classifies vulnerable road users as:
– Horse riders
The code as it stands already advises motorists to take extra care around vulnerable road users (as well as children, the elderly, disabled people and learner drivers).
It also takes into the account the extra difficulties faced by large vehicles, such as lorries and HGVs. For example, Rules 221 & 222 of the Code emphasise the nature of difficulties specific to lorry drivers, such as their need for extra space when turning their large vehicles, the fact that lorry drivers will not be able to see vehicles which move into their blind spot and that lorries may be subject to lower speed limits or have speed restrictors fitted.
But how will these changes to The Highway Code affect lorry drivers?
As well as introducing a hierarchy of road users, the proposed changes plan to:
Clarify the current rules on pedestrian priority on pavements. Drivers and riders will need to give priority to pedestrians who are crossing or waiting to cross the road.
Set out safe passing distance guidance to motorists for when they overtake cyclists or horse riders and ensuring that both have priority at junctions when their intention is to travel ahead.
These new rules are indisputable. Few would argue against the introduction of further measures to protect the most vulnerable of road users.
Instead, what is concerning many in the haulage industry, is the idea of setting out a hierarchy amongst road users. Creating a “hierarchy” undermines the simple fact that we should all be responsible for our own safety on the road as well as others.
The new table of hierarchy will place ‘pedestrians’ at the pinnacle and at the bottom you will find ‘large vehicles’, with the latter bearing a greater responsibility to reduce the threat of danger they pose to all others above them in the hierarchical table.
Emphasis should remain on the fact that all road users need to bear equal responsibility for their safety, whilst not putting themselves in situations that could cause harm to fellow road users. Rules denoting the contrary will surely lead to disarray.
For more Barnes blogs, click here.