World Book Day aims to celebrate the joy of getting lost in a story and encourages young people to adopt a life-long habit of reading. I’ve loved reading from an early age and I was a member of my local library before I even remember. Topsy and Tim were favourite book characters of mine. And they even had a book all about safety.
This year, one book that is preoccupying me is the Highway Code, not least because it has recently undergone a revamp which has seen a raft of changes and new rules being introduced.
But when was the last time you looked at the Highway Code? Chances are, if you haven’t had to take a driving or riding test recently you won’t have felt the urge to pick up that little blue book and start reading.
The Highway Code is a document for everyone and it applies to all of us, all of the time. Without setting out those rules of the road we’d have chaos, with everyone doing their own thing. It would be more dangerous on the roads and we’d take longer to get where we are going. Those in the biggest, most intimidating vehicles would take advantage of their size to gain priority. Pedestrians and cyclists would probably be too afraid to venture out at all.
That’s where the Highway Code comes in, setting out everything you could possibly want to know about how to be a safe and responsible road user, whether you are a pedestrian, a driver or a rider.
Some elements of The Highway Code are legal requirements, and breaking these rules is a criminal offence that could land you with a fine, penalty points or in some cases a prison sentence. These elements of the Code are clearly marked with the words MUST or MUST NOT.
Rules which say you should do something are not legally binding, but they will help you become a safer road user. Be aware that if you don’t adhere to rules that have advisory wording in them and you're being prosecuted for a driving offence, then The Highway Code can be used against you in court and will be taken seriously by judges.
So all in all, it’s a pretty important document and one that we should all be following.
There is even a version of the Highway Code for young road users. The Tales of the Road interactive education resource can be accessed from our website here.
The latest updates to the Highway Code, which came into force in January, provide additional guidance to help improve safety for active travellers such as pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, in a bid to make these modes an attractive alternative to using the car. The updates and new rules help to clarify responsibilities and reinforce what we would expect good road users to already be doing.
More details of the changes can be found on our website https://sysrp.co.uk/Highway-Code
Rules work best when everyone is aware of them and stick to them. Unfortunately, we can’t assume that everyone is as careful as we are in abiding by the requirements set out in the Highway Code.
As a Safer Roads Partnership we’ll be running an ongoing operation to promote the changes through messaging on our different social media platforms, when talking to different groups and organisations or making relevant road safety information available.
Help us to spread the word and start the conversation with your friends and family about the new changes. You might not all agree about the changes. Different types of road users might have different views. But by highlighting the changes you might just alert someone who wasn’t aware and encourage them to revisit the Highway Code and brush up on their knowledge.
Please use the roads in a responsible manner and be considerate of other road users. Treat others as you would want them to treat you and let’s make all our journeys safer and more pleasant.
Until next time, stay safe.