The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) welcomes the planned updates to the Highway Code but calls for a major education campaign to ensure that all road users are aware of the new rules and advice.

RoSPA participated in the consultation process that considered proposed updates and amendments to the Highway Code and is pleased that many of its observations and suggestions will be acted upon.

These include support for the introduction of a hierarchy of road users, which ensures that those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others, and the clarification of existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements.

RoSPA also endorses the guidance on cyclist priority at junctions and safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking cyclists and horse riders.

Advising users to use the “Dutch Reach” when opening their vehicle doors will be another welcome addition to the Highway Code. RoSPA was one of the original organisations that promoted and called for the introduction of the “Dutch Reach” method, which makes those exiting vehicles turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them.

While RoSPA welcomes the proposed changes, we believe that an extensive education campaign is needed to make all road users aware of the new advice and regulations. It is pleased that £500,000 of Government funding will be earmarked for a THINK! campaign to raise awareness of the changes and hopes that the publicity will be wide-ranging and comprehensive.

RoSPA Road Safety Officer (England), Rebecca Needham, said: “RoSPA recognises that the changes encourage us to respect and consider other road users and their needs, which is very welcome.

“There may be a perception among pedestrians that they are not road users or that the Highway Code is a document only for motorists. An education campaign must make everyone aware that the Highway Code is written to provide rules and guidance for pedestrians as well as motorists.

“RoSPA also reiterates that although road user behaviour and attitudes are key in preventing accidents on Great Britain’s roads, the hierarchy that has been introduced, and the supporting rules detailed, will only improve the safety of vulnerable road users if they are supplemented by the appropriate infrastructure measures. For example, on key routes, segregated facilities should be considered to reduce the chance of conflicts between motorists and vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists.”