Three fifths of drivers still haven't read updated Highway Code rules – AA Accident Assist

posted on 07/09/2022

More than half have heard of the update, but still not looked at the new Code

Majority of drivers could identify the new rules

2% have no intention of reading the updated Code

"We are concerned that so many still haven't read the rules." says AA Accident Assist MD 

Three fifths (61%*) still haven't read the changes to the Highway Code which provides greater protection of vulnerable road users, according to a survey by AA Accident Assist. 

Just 39% had read the new rules, a slight increase from 33% of drivers who were asked the same question in January this year. 

More than half (52%) of the 13,000 strong survey had heard about the changes to the Highway Code but had not had time to read them yet. One in 10 drivers (10%) between the ages of 18 to 54 were completely unaware of the changes to the Code, compared to one in 20 drivers older than 55 (5%). 

Worryingly, 2% said that they had no intention of reading the updated Highway Code. 

Majority could identify new rules, but some more recognisable than others 

When asked to identify the five correct statements included in the updated Highway Code from a list of 10, the majority could do so correctly. Rules concerning pedestrians crossing the road and giving way to cyclists and pedestrians before turning into side roads are the most recalled (both 94%), but the Dutch Reach method which reduces the chances of car-dooring passing cyclists is lesser known (69%). 

However, some cycling related statements have been misremembered with more than a quarter (27%) believing cyclists MUST ride in the centre of the lane. Meanwhile 14% falsely believe that electric car owners are required to sound their horn prior to overtaking cyclists and horse riders to make them aware of their presence. 

Q. From the following statements, which 5 are included are in the updated Highway Code specifically relating to improving safety for vulnerable road users? % of those answering "TRUE" (N.B. Statements 1-5 are TRUE) 

Leave at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph – 93%

If a pedestrian is waiting to cross or has started crossing the road and traffic wants to turn into the road, the pedestrian has priority and all traffic should give way. – 94%

When exiting a vehicle and able to do so, drivers and passengers should open the door using their hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. For example, using their left hand to open a door on their right-hand side. – 69%

Cyclists can ride 2 abreast, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders. – 80%

Drivers and motorcyclists should not turn into a junction if doing so would cause a cyclist, horse rider or horse drawn vehicle going straight ahead to stop or swerve. – 93%

Cyclists must ride in the centre of the lane. – 27%

Cyclists should pass a horse on the horse's left. – 6%
The 'hierarchy of road users' is a concept that places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the bottom of the hierarchy. – 27%

Electric car drivers are required to sound their horn before overtaking cyclists, pedestrians in the road, and horse riders so they know of their presence. – 14%

On narrow roads with parked cars either side, cyclists should ride as close to the left-hand side as possible allowing faster moving traffic to overtake them. – 26% 

With the updated Code more than six months old and following campaigns by the Department for Transports road safety arm, Think!**, AA Accident Assist is reminding drivers of their responsibility to read the Code and its importance in reducing the chances of collisions. Should the worst happen, AA members can access Accident Assist for free***. 

Tim Rankin, managing director of AA Accident Assist, said; "For many the updated Highway Code formalises safe and sensible roadcraft, however we are concerned that so many still haven't read the rules. 

"While we are pleased that many of the changes can be successfully recalled, we'd like more drivers to know the rules outright so they can keep themselves and others safe. 

"It is in everyone's interest to take every measure that helps avoid collisions and remove confusion from the road, so we urge those that still haven't read the updated Code to do so as soon as possible." 

*Article Source

Related articles and services

road accidents

‘Surge in road accidents’ as clocks go back