‘Necessary changes’ are needed for new Highway Code rules after major overhaul

‘Necessary changes’ are needed for new Highway Code rules after major overhaul

06/03/2022

Highway Code changes slammed by Steve McNamara

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Numerous Highway Code rules have already been added this year, looking to address road safety issues and ensure pedestrians and cyclists are protected. The Department for Transport also announced a ground-breaking move towards a “self-driving revolution”.

It contained information about how the Government plans to introduce self-driving vehicles to the roads safely, which could be seen later this year.

Many motoring organisations were concerned about whether this could lead to danger on the roads, pointing to the Government guidance.

It stated that: “The plans also include a change to current regulation, allowing drivers to view content which is not related to driving on built-in display screens, while the self-driving vehicle is in control. 

“It will however, still be illegal to use mobile phones in self-driving mode, given the greater risk they pose in distracting drivers as shown in research.”

Some voiced opposition to this, saying it could encourage motorists to take their eyes off the road and their hands off the wheel.

Ben Pepper, Associate in the Accident Claims Team at law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, analysed how the law changes could affect drivers.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, he said: “The changes to the Highway Code could prevent potential arguments during road traffic accidents claims that drivers who were watching movies should have paid closer attention to the roads.

“Whilst the changes to the Highway Code might be difficult for some to comprehend at present, there will soon be vehicles on the road where monitoring isn’t necessary. 

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“The reason that watching movies is allowed and using mobile phones is not is because the user of the self-driving car needs to be responsive to a transition demand. 

“Movies can be cut out by the vehicle when the user is required to take over, whereas mobiles cannot.”

The Government is continuing to develop a full legal framework for self-driving vehicles to enable the safer and greener movement of people and goods in the UK.

It also confirmed that changes would be made to the Highway Code, following a public consultation.

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The majority of respondents were “broadly supportive” of the proposed changes to driving rules, especially to clarify the responsibilities of drivers.

The introduction of the technology is likely to begin with vehicles travelling at slow speeds on motorways, such as in congested traffic.  

Mr Pepper continued, saying: “Insurance companies being liable for the accidents involving driverless vehicles will allow easier access to compensation for injured victims. 

“It will avoid the need for long drawn-out complicated litigation against manufacturers. 

“It is encouraging that the Government is making the necessary changes to the Highway Code before self-driving cars take to the roads.”

It is estimated that the development of self-driving vehicles could create around 38,000 new, high-skilled jobs within Britain’s industry that would be worth £41.7billion by 2035. 

According to applied futurist Tom Cheesewright, drivers in the UK may see enormous changes to the road landscape in the coming years.

Within the next 10 years, motorists around the world will see the “decade of electrification”.

In addition to the take off of electric cars, which is already rapidly underway, eBuses and eTaxis may offer more practical options to commuters, with lower running costs and longer ranges for travel.

Mr Cheesewright also predicted what may be seen further in the future, commenting: “City dwellers will also likely pay for transport via a subscription service.

“It will be a more affordable option to owning a car, with tiered options to account for different budgets.”

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